PPHD Highlights Area Athletes who Steer Clear of Tobacco; Amundsen Scholarship Winner

Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) once again has partnered with area students to spread the word on the dangers of tobacco use of any kind. The campaign features high school athletes in the Panhandle Prep magazine from around the region who commit to saying no to the harmful effects of tobacco and how it can affect their performances in their activities.

A campaign on PPHD’s Facebook page featured four athletes from around the Panhandle who are leading the charge in their schools and communities on vowing to not use tobacco or vape products. The athletes highlighted included:

  • Matthias Benzel of Alliance, “I choose not to vape or use tobacco to stay clear minded and on top of my game.”
  • Sadie Davis of Gering, “I have too much going on to worry about the negative effects of smoking and vaping. I am far too busy to follow along with the addictive nature of vaping and smoking.”
  • Olivia Loomis-Goltl of Bridgeport, “I choose to be tobacco free so that my teammates can depend on me to be my best in every game and so that I can continue to improve each competition.”
  • Landon Amundsen of Scottsbluff, “Athletics is an important part of my life. In order to compete at a high level, I want to be at peak physical condition, which means spending time in the gym/weight room and avoiding tobacco, vaping, drugs, and alcohol.”

Each of these athletes had a post on the PPHD Facebook page and the athlete that got most “likes” on the original post on Facebook would get a $250 scholarship courtesy of PPHD. The athlete with the most “likes” for the fall season was Landon Amundsen of Scottsbluff.

As of 2020, 4.2% of Nebraska high school students smoke and 17.1% use e-cigarettes. In the last 2 years alone, vaping increased by 218% among middle schoolers and 135% among high schoolers. Teens who vape are now 3x more likely than non-vapors to become daily cigarette smokers.

Nicotine increases your heart rate, tenses your muscles, and decreases the oxygen to your brain, despite a reputation for ‘relieving stress.’ In young people, 5 mg of nicotine a day is enough to establish a nicotine addiction.

Young people also face increased instances of anxiety and depression and while it has always been thought that nicotine is a stress reducer, this is a common myth. In a study published by the Journal of American Medical Association, current e-cigarette users have double the odds of having a diagnosis of depression compared to those who have never vaped. Nicotine use in general can increase stress levels.

Students are the target of the tobacco industry and their harmful marketing tactics are creating new generations of tobacco users. By standing up to these tactics, area student athletes have the potential to be great leaders in their communities to help stop other students from becoming lifelong tobacco users.

Visit PPHD’s Facebook page to vote for the student athletes today: https://www.facebook.com/panhandlepublichealth.

For help quitting, the Nebraska Tobacco Quitline is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), and for Spanish services at 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569). We encourage parents and teens to talk to their healthcare provider about resources and support. For additional resources visit www.QuitNow.ne.gov or www.pphd.ne.gov.

Panhandle Public Health District is working together to improve the health, safety, and quality of life for all who live, learn, work and play in the Panhandle. Our vision is that we are a healthier and safer Panhandle Community.

Funding for this project is provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services/Tobacco Free Nebraska Program as a result of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Leave a Comment