Kick Butts

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20-percent of Nevada students in grades 9-through-12 smoke cigarettes regularly, according to the American Lung Association.
This is a statistic, a group of middle school students in Douglas County, say they are going to change.

Riley Cooper is a seventh grader at Pau Wa Lu Middle School.
She says she and her friends talk about smoking often.
"My friends, they tell me, 'oh my god, so and so smokes and I was like, why don't you help them stop or something. They say, I don't know, I just don't talk to them. It's like, maybe you should. Spread some knowledge."

For the last several weeks, flyers around the schools touted a "mystery" killer taking the lives of 1200 people a day.
Wednesday morning, the mystery was revealed as part of the nationwide 11th annual Kick Butts day.

All afternoon, members of Teens Against Tobacco Use, also called TATU talked about why they are choosing not to smoke.

Kris Freitas is a counselor at the middle school and she works with TATU.
She says it's tough for kids to make a decision, not only to never smoke, but to be an advocate among your peers.
"Peer pressure is a lot for kids this age and our goal for teens against tobacco is to teach peers and teach young children never to pick up a cigarette because we know nicotine is very addictive."

Smoking rates among young adults has decreased by almost 40-percent since 1997, but the effects of smoking are noticeable even in this small group.

Cody Tinker, a ninth grader, says he won't smoke because of his grandmother who died from lung cancer.
"She was a very nice woman, pretty frail due to all the smoking. She had a breather. She was actually pretty good at video games... it took a while to sink in, it was sudden."

Melinda Matus is the community coordinator for TATU.
She says it's important to get the facts out to teens at a young age, because they will remember.
"They understand once they're gone, they're gone. And, these kids will not see them again."