Dear Governor Christie and whomever else it may concern,
I know you are in a tough position with the budget, but there are somethings that just should not be cut, because the good they do much outweighs the price to keep them running.
REBEL, is just such an organization. Mainly funded from the fruits of many tobacco lawsuits, REBEL takes money from the tobaccos companies and and uses it to help enlighten people to the evils they cause. REBEL is a great help to the people of New Jersey. Through REBEL, teenagers get to have fun on the trips and retreat, be involved in a program they can directly contribute to, and get to see the differences they make, in the lives of smokers, and young people who tobaccos companies illegally target. They also get to talk directly to their peers about it, see their reactions, and are trusted as friends, instead of corny overpaid TV and Radio ads, or sad attempts like the WE card to cut back on tobacco use.
That’s the bonus. The kids involved enjoy this, as well as being able to have a direct impact, without paying for Ads and won’t work anyway. I personally have done 10 mini-MTLS (Mini tobacco learning symposiums) Teaching freshmen in high school the dangers of smoking, not sounding like a corny advertisement, but talking to them, as they would ask an older friend for advise on college. They listen, and they respect our voices, because we are people their age talking to them are their friends and peers. We Talk, they listen. I believe we have a better effect on them than parents, ads and counselor do, because we know our stuff, provide relevant, interesting and up to date information, and deliver in in such a way that we grab and hold their attention, but are still respected as their friends and peers.
The teachers also listen when we talk. After my school added its zero tolerance tobacco policy, teachers were no longer permitted to sneak smoke breaks. A Teacher who had a lot of influence on me, switched to gum and has quit, because of the rules several of us have gotten enacted. Several other teachers have, last I saw, but back on how often they smoke, and are trying to ease into quiting. This was also done, because of REBEL and two students who helped enact a comprehensive tobacco policy at our school with the help of our moderator and Burlington county REBEL adviser.
I am a strong believer in the anti-tobacco movement. I picked it up from my dad, who smoked on and off for several years, never became addicted, but eventually realized it effected his breathing, his running, and overall mentality. He told me from an early age what it did to him, even for the very little time he smoked. He quit as soon as he made the connection between his health problems and smoking, and was one of the lucky ones that was able to quit. Its a good thing he did, because my mothers always told him, if he had smoked when they met, she would not have acknowledged his existence.
I’ve been a rebel member for 3 years (From the time my school started rebel until I graduated), and even thought my college does not have a REBEL chapter, I still help out and support rebel at every chance. I have 3 brothers who are active in rebel as well, two of which spent some time in REBEL 2 in grade school. I was proud to, as a new member be included on signing a petition that helped pass the New Jersey Clean air act, and have gone to several REBEL conventions, county meeting, and help out for out school meetings. Most of those mini MTLS’ I did, were coming back as a alumni, to help teach these kids about the dangers of tobacco.
REBEL plays several roles. One, teaching the members about anti-tobaccos so they know better for use later in life. Two, teaching fellow students and being active in the youth community promoting tobacco free lifestyles and showing the harm it does in order to keep young people from ever trying it to begin with. Members are also included on helping to reform rules in schools to create a comprehensive tobacco policy. And lastly, We take the knowledge and skills outside of the youth and school community to our older friends, family members are others that we care about, and try to get them to quit by teaching them, what they were never taught growing up.
In my school REBEL worked with another club, that promoted generally healthy lifestyles, free of drinking and drugs. When we formed rebel, most of us in the other club, joined REBEL because it promoted the same ideals were were already living, and allowed us to help others as well as have fun. Some of my best memories of high school came from trips and events that involved REBEL, from rocking climbing, to hiking and camping, to teaching a class of 30 freshmen about smoking and seeing their faces as the come to the realization of how back it actually is for them. It has also given me a chance to meet a lot of new people from other schools, who I never would’ve meet otherwise, as well as grow closer to some old friends through the time we spent together and common interests.
From a monetary standpoint just think of what little REBEL costs to run. Compare that to the money saved from health bills further down the line. You’ve got the statistics, take a look at what it costs a person to smoke for a lifetime, both in cost of tobacco, and health care, its more than it costs to have a few preventative measures in place. Then again, health care costs may not actually be too high, the tobacco will probably kill them before it gets to that point.
So Governor Christie, I’m asking you, leave some funding in there for REBEL, You get your money’s worth. Free spokesmen and women, who believe int he message and work better than any paid advertisement ever does, who take their time and effort to help smokers, the young people who are targeted by tobacco companies, and people in general, who no longer have to sit in a diner and smell cigarette smoke polluting the air. This is one investment you can’t afford to turn down.
If I didn’t believe in the cause, do you think I would’ve taken my time to write you this letter? Help us make New Jersey a better place by funding REBEL, and promoting a tobacco free, not just smoke free, lifestyle starting at an early age.