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Tijeras, New Mexico - April 14, 1999: As the new millennium approaches students at Roosevelt Middle School are working to make a difference in their environment.

The Smoke Free Falcons '99 is a unique program at Roosevelt run by Talking Talons Youth Leadership and supported by the NM Department of Health American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (ASSIST) Project.

Students have been learning about environmental health with the use of Talking Talons unique teaching tools: injured, non-releasable birds of prey.

Through their examination of human impacts on wildlife health, they are discovering that in their own environments (indoor and outdoor) there is evidence of the greatest health threat facing people today: the use of tobacco products.

Talking Talons teaches young citizens that tobacco use and promotion is much like a chemical agent that enters an ecosystem.

The famous example in wildlife conservation is the introduction of the insecticide DDT into the environment from the middle 1940's to the late 1960's. The result was the near loss of the Peregrine Falcon, a marvelous raptor and the fastest flier in the world.


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Kick Butts Day activities


Armed with knowledge such as this, Roosevelt Smoke Free Falcons are going out into the community and educating their peers about the dangers of tobacco use, and how the deadly agent is being promoted to people their age.

How do the youth speakers motivate their peer audiences? With the use of live ambassadors such as "Lakota" Talking Talons non-releasable Peregrine Falcon or "Smokey" an American Kestrel who suffered lung damage herself from an accident years ago.

Further evidence that tobacco use is an environmental issue is described by Bequi Livingston, Wild Land Fire Manager with the Sandia Ranger Station.

The US Forest Service estimates that 35% of wild-land fires are caused by improperly disposed of smoking materials.

Students are learning that cigarette smoking kills more people than all other forms of fatality, but Ms. Livingston is scheduled to speak at Roosevelt where "Kick Butts Day" activities will be occurring on April 14.

Also participating will be students from Navajo Pine High School traveling to Tijeras from Gallup, New Mexico, the Mayor of Tijeras, Honorable Juan R. Griego, and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.

Smoke Free Falcons at Roosevelt have also been assessing advertising strategies of Tobacco vendors in Tijeras, Cedar Crest, Sedillo, and Edgewood, and creating counter advertisements for their school.


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