Havre Daily News
"to draw awareness to the fact that every 72 seconds, a person dies from a tobacco-related illness in the United States," Schuschke said.
Serena Mickolio, 10, said she never wants to start smoking because it would prevent her from being active.
"I exercise and I want to stay healthy," she said. "I don't want to smoke. It would be disgusting and it smells. I probably wouldn't have a lot of friends. The habit is bad. When you start doing it, you do it a lot."
Tara Sherven, 9, said she will try to prevent her friends from smoking.
"I'd throw the cigarette away and tell them to quit," she said. "I probably wouldn't be their friend anymore if they started."
Kaylee Gooch, 6, said smoking stinks.
"It smells bad," she said. "Smoking's not good for you."
Her 8-year-old brother, Kyle, agreed.
"It's bad for you," he said. "You might die, and it's bad for your lungs. It makes your teeth yellow and it smells nasty."
Grayson Brenna, 8, said that if someone tried to get him to start smoking, he'd tell them no "and run away."
Mike Sauer, 7, said his grandfather died because he smoked too much, and he's not going to start.
"I'm never going to do it when I get older," he said.
Nathan Hurlburt, 15, said teenagers often start smoking to fit in.
"I think it's just kind of a pointless thing," he said. "I don't see why people do it."
Nathen Stuker, 15, said he didn't want to start because it's unhealthy, and agreed that teens pick up the habit because of peer pressure.
"I think the reason they do it is to fit into the crowd," he said. "People just think they can be cool. A lot of times it's just peer pressure."
In a year when Montana smokers are feeling the heat of a cost increase and an impending ban on smoking in public places, some Havre youths are taking anti-smoking efforts into their own hands. Elementary-age children lined up alongside high school kids on Wednesday and pledged to never start smoking.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Line celebrated the 10th annual Kick Butts Day by handing out pledge sheets and hanging cardboard tombstones to remind the public of the number of deaths caused by smoking every year.
The pledges were an example of the children taking on a leadership role, a kind of "reverse peer pressure," club prevention specialist Jay Schuschke said
"The kids are promising to remain tobacco-free out of respect for their own health and to set an example," he said. "Our aim is to take it a step further. We would like them to educate the community about the importance of this issue."
According to www.tobaccofreekids.org, 5 million children alive today will die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. Almost 90 percent of adult smokers picked up the habit before turning 18, it said.
The pledges could be addressed to the child's parents, grandparents or anyone else in their lives, Schuschke said. After signing it, the kids were allowed to add their name to a pledge wall inside the club.
Teen members helped out by working the pledge tables, taping the tombstones to the building and signing the pledges themselves.
The tombstones were an attempt