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Cancer survivor speaks to students across Nevada about dangers of tobacco use


HEALTHY COMMUNITIES COALITION NEWS RELEASE – March 11 through March 15, Gruen VonBehrens, cancer survivor and motivational speaker, will be presenting at area middle and high schools about the impact of smoking. Gruen began using chewing tobacco at age 13 and was diagnosed with oral cancer at age 17. He has undergone 35 surgeries including removal of his lower teeth, jawbone, half of his tongue and part of his neck muscles. VonBehrens now travels across the country sharing his story and educating kids and teens about the risks of tobacco use, respecting yourself and others.

Each day in the United States over 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and over 1,000 youth under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers. One of the most important – and widely cited – findings on smoking and health is that virtually all cigarette smoking and tobacco usage begins before adulthood. While the prevalence of tobacco usage among Nevada’s youth has dropped significantly in the past decade, our rate still remains at 17% and seems to be climbing again.

Mr. VonBehrens will address Nevada teens on the risks of tobacco use. Over the course of the week, VonBehrens will speak to more than 4,000 kids and teens from 12 schools throughout Nevada. VonBehrens’ presentations are made possible through a grant from the Nevada State Health Division and the efforts of Nevada Cancer Coalition and partners including the Nevada Statewide Coalition Partnership.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Gruen VonBehrens before or after a school presentation, please contact Gwen Curtis, RN at 775- 750-5968.

Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey and our youth Stand Tall leadership and tobacco and other drug use prevention teams are grateful to share with students this invaluable real-life experience about the risks of tobacco use.  We hope such efforts will continue to decrease the use of all tobacco products by our youth.  The schools’ dedication to the health and well-being of their students will affect them for a lifetime. We are grateful to them for helping bring tobacco use messages and education to keep our kids tobacco free.

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