By HOLLY DURFEY
Cigarettes were found guilty of shorting the lives of smokers at a mock trial presented by the Provo Youth Council on Wednesday. The presentation was part of the “kick butts” assembly held at Dixon Middle School in Provo.
The mayor of Provo and two BYU football players talked to the seventh grade students at Dixon about the dangers of smoking.
Autumn Newson of the Provo Youth Council said seventh grade students were targeted because of the vulnerable stage they are at in their lives.
“Studies show that seventh grade is the time when most kids start smoking and get hooked for the rest of their lives,” Newson said.
The prosecution at the mock trial presented evidence to the group of seventh-grade students showing how dangerous smoking can be.
“Over 36 percent of high school students in the U.S. are addicted to smoking,” the prosecution stated.
They also presented drawings of healthy lungs compared to the black lungs of a lifetime smoker.
Mayor Lewis K. Billings led the assembly in a pledge to stay cigarette-free and to help friends who may be addicted.
“I hope to raise the awareness of the negative effects of a lifetime of smoking,” Billings said.
Billings said middle school students look up to their peers and older students. He said having the Provo youth council, made up of Timpview and Provo High School students, conduct the assembly had a great impact on the seventh graders.
“This has the potential to be a very effective assembly,” Billings said.
Crowds of seventh-grade boys surrounded BYU football players Setema Gali and Hans Olsen before the assembly started.
Gali and Olsen said they have gone to a lot of schools talking to young students about things like drugs and goals.
“We want to build and inspire their character. They’ll be future leaders,” Gali said.
Gali encouraged the seventh-graders to have dreams and then warned them that smoking will destroy those dreams.