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Texas School Safety Center pushes tobacco-free message via conference

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
July 22, 2014

The Texas School Safety Center (TSSC) at Texas State University will attend the Texas Say What! Tobacco-Free Conference July 27-30 in the Woodlands as part of its statewide Say What! (Work Hard Against Tobacco) campaign.

More than 400 youth and their sponsors from throughout the state are expected to attend the conference. The TSSC will use the conference to cap its 2013-14 Tobacco and Youth prevention program, which brings cutting-edge strategies, information, tools and techniques about leadership and tobacco prevention to young people throughout Texas.

"What makes the conference particularly unique is that a group of Texas teen ambassadors, who already have taken their tobacco prevention messages to their communities, will lead the conference supported by a cadre of inspiring keynote speakers," said Victoria Calder, the TxSSC director.

Those speakers include Shaun Derik, an acclaimed public speaker noted for his skills in inspiring youth; Victor DeNoble, the first whistle blower from within the tobacco industry to testify before Congress about his industry research; and "Rose," who started smoking at age 13 and now is a patient at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Rose is featured in the most recent anti-tobacco Tips from Former Smokers campaign from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The Texas Say What! Conference also will feature interactive workshops and team activities where youth create tobacco-prevention focused projects to deliver to their schools and communities," said TxSSC Associate Director Jennifer Steele. "The Say What! Texas teen ambassadors lead these initiatives with a focus upon making our state smoke free, debunking myths about tobacco use of all kinds, exploring the ways that the tobacco industry markets to young people, and discussing the dangers of second and third hand smoke."

Both the Texas Department of State Health Services and the CDC support these efforts and recognize the important role that youth play in tobacco prevention and in making lasting environmental changes for tobacco prevention and control. Say What! was created by young people from across Texas and connects students and adults interested in eliminating tobacco from their schools and communities with the tobacco prevention message of "stand up, speak up and be tobacco free."

Say What! is a program of the TSSC at Texas State and is funded through a contract from the Texas Department of State Health Services as part of the state’s tobacco prevention initiatives.

Additional conference information is available at: To learn more about Texas School Safety Center visit