Friday night, June 11, 2016, of the High School Rodeo Finals to be held in Baker June 7-12, the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program (MTUPP) will be sponsoring the “Pledge to Wear Red” campaign in support of tobacco-free rodeos.
By Sherry Vogel
Among the many students wearing red will be six lucky high school seniors who are competing and in good standing with the Montana High School Rodeo Association. They will be awarded some $17,000 worth of college scholarships.
To be eligible, senior class contestants will make a pledge to be tobacco free athletes during the ten series of high school rodeos. Tobacco free pledge cards are available at each rodeo and student contestants must make a pledge before they can begin accumulating points to be considered for an award. These students will also “Pledge to Wear Red” Friday night of the rodeo finals in support of all tobacco-free athletes.
During the 2015-16 rodeo year, six finalists will be selected from many qualified scholarship applicants. The six finalists will each interview during the State Finals in Baker. The scholarship awards will be as follows: two – $5,000, two – $2,500, and two – $1,000.
Thanks to the MTUPP and the MHSRA diligently working together for the past eight years, Montana was the first state in the nation to establish a Tobacco-Free Rodeo. They stand firm on the belief that “tobacco has no place in Montana High School Rodeos!”.
The MTUPP has also generously donated funds to purchase four “Welcome to Baker” banners. They will be displayed at each entrance to town to welcome rodeo contestants and families to Baker.
The Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program was established in 2007. This tobacco prevention program is funded by the Master Settlement Program money (1998) and grant funds from the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Its mission is to address the public health crisis caused by the use of all forms of commercial tobacco products.
Statistics reveal that four Montanans die every day from tobacco related diseases. Further studies revealed that 20 percent of all adults in Montana smoke. In addition, 13 percent of Montana youth are also smokers while another 12 percent of youth are currently smokeless tobacco users, i.e. chewing tobacco.
MTUPP works to eliminate use, especially among young people through statewide programs and policies. Among other state programs sponsored are: The Montana Tobacco Line, American Indian Quit Line, and Cessation and Pregnancy Program.