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My Reason to Write

The My Reason to Write project is one of Stamp Out Smoking’s youth and community activities. Designed to engage Arkansas students in tobacco prevention and cessation efforts and reduce the state’s youth smoking rates, the activity is open to public and private schools in all 75 counties. Participants in grades 2 – 8 may submit their entries through mail, email or through the website. Entries are judged in respective categories and are awarded prizes. The ultimate goal is to educate youth about the dangerous health effects of tobacco and nicotine products; reveal the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics and efforts to target youth; and inspire other students with youth-driven tobacco prevention and cessation messaging.

1 Children's Way | Slot 669 | Little Rock, Arkansas 72202

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Congratulations To This Year’s Winners!

The Project Prevent Youth Coalition would like to congratulate the 2017 My Reason to Write – Escape the Vape winners!

Below is the list of winners from grades 2-8 and their winning entry.

Elementary - Lyrics/Poetry

First Place
Madeline Coston
Arkadelphia, Clark County
Second Place
Travis Hall
Camden, Ouachita County
Third Place
Zane Hill
Arkadelphia, Clark County

Elementary - Essay

First Place
Jeremiah Williams
Camden, Ouachita County
Second Place
Destini Fatherree
Kirby, Pike County
Third Place
Dalleigh Fant
Kirby, Pike County

Middle - Lyrics/Poetry

First Place
Sarah Papa
Harrison, Boone County
Second Place
Jeffery Lassiter
Phillips County
Third Place
Nabia Northern
Jacksonville, Pulaski County

Middle - Essay

First Place
Sonora Weeden
Jasper, Newton County
Second Place
Ava Salvitti
El Dorado, Union County
Third Place
Anna White
Benton, Saline County

You could win Awards!

Teachers of first-place winners in each category will receive $300 for classroom supplies.

Elementary School Students

First Place
Second Place
Samsung Galaxy 7" Nook & $40 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
Third Place
Beats EP Headphones

Middle School Students

First Place
Second Place
Samsung Galaxy 7" Nook & $40 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
Third Place
Beats EP Headphones

Educator Tips

It’s a fact: Kids who use tobacco are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. Here are several Tips for talking to kids about tobacco and leading them in the right direction.

Tips For...
Counselors & Teachers


Cigars, cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, or electronic smoking devices are NOT safe alternatives. Nicotine in cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco can result in the following: 

  • Addiction 
  • Narrowing of blood vessels and heart damage 
  • Reduced lung capacity and stamina 
  • Shortness of breath (almost three times more often than nonsmokers) 


  • Tobacco smoke gives hair and clothing a foul odor. 
  • Tobacco stains teeth and causes bad breath. 
  • The use of smokeless tobacco can cause cracked lips, mouth sores, tooth loss, and bleeding in the mouth. 
  • Surgical removal of oral cancers from tobacco use can cause serious facial scarring and distortion. Sean Marcee, a high school star athlete from Oklahoma, used smokeless tobacco and consequently died of oral cancer when he was 19 years old. 


  • “E-juices” used in “Electronic Smoking Devices (ESDs),” which include “e-cigarettes,” “personal vaporizers,” “vapes,” or “hookah pens,” contain nicotine, and are extracted from tobacco leaves. 
  • Nicotine is highly addictive and can negatively impact your health, including brain development. Did you know that the brain does not fully develop until age 25? 
  • As of August 8, 2016, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all ESDs and E-juices. However, merchants who sell ESDs and E-juices have two years to comply with the new FDA regulations. E-cigarettes can contain up to four times the amount of nicotine found in regular cigarettes. Higher concentrations can result in nicotine  poisoning, causing nausea, vomiting, and even death. Ingredients often found in E-juices are regulated by the  FDA for ingestion, not inhalation.
  • Use of ESDs, along with cigarettes and other tobacco products, is illegal on all Arkansas public school property, including school buses and other off-campus sanctioned school events.


  • Know the truth. Despite all the tobacco use on TV and in movies, video games, apps, and magazines, most teens, adults, and physically active individuals DO NOT use tobacco. 
  • Make friends, participate in physical activity, be independent, and in general, get involved in extracurricular activities. You don’t need tobacco or nicotine products to be cool or have a good time. 
  • Don’t waste money on tobacco or nicotine products. Spend it on video games (that don’t feature smoking), clothes, shoes, movies, or smartphones.  
  • Get involved: make your team, school, and home tobacco and nicotine free; learn about tobacco- and nicotine-free policies; inspire others to join efforts to prevent tobacco and nicotine use. 

Tips For...


Kids who are around tobacco and/or nicotine may: 

  • Cough and have asthma attacks more often. 
  • Develop respiratory problems, leading to more sick days and medical bills, and decreased physical activity. 
  • Be more likely to use alcohol and other drugs. 
  • Become addicted and find it extremely hard to quit. 
  • Believe that cigarillos, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and electronic smoking devices (ESDs) are safe alternatives to cigarettes. They are NOT. 
  • Be unaware that tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States, causing heart disease, lung disease, cancers, and strokes.  


  • Despite the impact of movies, music, and TV, parents can be the GREATEST INFLUENCE in their child’s life. 
  • Talk directly to your child about the risks of tobacco and nicotine use; share how the death of a friend or relative who died from a tobacco-related illness has affected you. 
  • If you use tobacco/nicotine, you can still make a difference. Try to quit and lead by example. Meanwhile, do not 
  • use tobacco or ESDs in your child’s presence and do not leave these products unattended around your child.  It is illegal to purchase these products for a minor.
  • Start a dialogue about tobacco and nicotine use at age five or six and continue through your child’s life.  Many kids start using tobacco or nicotine by age 11, and may become addicted by age 14.
  • Try to determine if your child’s friends use tobacco or nicotine.  Discuss ways to refuse tobacco and nicotine use.
  • Address the false glamorization of tobacco and nicotine use in magazines, movies, TV, video games, and other media.  


  • Annually, the tobacco industry spends $119 million in Arkansas to attract new customers. Help your community counter market Big Tobacco by developing tobacco- and nicotine-free or point-of-sale policies. For more information, contact Feather Linn at 
  • Get involved: Join the Project Prevent Youth Coalition as an Advisor or recruit student members, or call your local cancer, heart, or lung association to learn how you can make a difference.