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PHAST Club Students Bring Tobacco Awareness To RHS
After answering the question correctly this student was able to grab a prize from the PHAST booth during lunch at Riverbank High School. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The PHAST (Protecting Health And Slamming Tobacco) Club at Riverbank High School had a booth set up in the quad recently that featured a game where students would receive a random question that, if answered correctly, entitled them to receive a prize in celebration of “Kick Butts Day.”

For the past few years, PHAST Advisor Maritza Alvarez has been leading the PHAST club and has approximately 15 students currently active in the club.

A couple sample questions students answered were “What are the three most advertised Tobacco brands” and “Tobacco use is the leading cause of what?” Prizes received were a key chain, hacky sack, or a star ring. The invaluable prize that was gifted to the students was the knowledge of the dangers of tobacco use.

“I definitely think the program brings awareness about the dangers of using tobacco,” added Alvarez. “A few weeks ago, they promoted ‘Through with Chew’ against chewing tobacco.”

Last week Alvarez, along with seven RHS students, attended Youth Quest at the State Capitol to rally against the tobacco industry and encourage prevention of tobacco use. According to Alvarez, this annual event is hosted by CYAN (California Youth Advocacy Network) to celebrate and promote youth advocacy in tobacco control. Youth Quest provides an opportunity for youth advocates to demonstrate their commitment to a tobacco-free California, learn about current tobacco control efforts, and build their advocacy skills by sharing their local work with legislators.

“We were scheduled to meet with (Assemblyman) Heath Flora and provide information regarding tobacco,” stated Alvarez. “Unfortunately, Mr. Flora was not available at the time of the meeting, but we talked to his assistant.

“We plan to pick up cigarette butts at local parks and were told he’d be interested in attending and supporting our cause.”

The club is also currently working on a PSA (Public Service Announcement) on dangers of e-cigarettes.