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Stand Tall Against Tobacco (STAT)


Stand Tall Against Tobacco (STAT) promotes tobacco prevention and cessation within a community by targeting middle school students in an interactive, educational program.

Tobacco companies make a product that kills 1,200 Americans a day, which is 438,000 a year. Over 80 percent of all adult smokers started smoking before they turned 18.

Tobacco is the largest cause of preventable disease and death. According to the American Lung Association (2000), an estimated 430,700 Americans die each year from tobacco-related diseases.

Tobacco use is associated with heart disease, lung disease, stroke, cancer, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. Tobacco-related illness costs the nation more than $100 billion each year. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey (1999) by the CDC:

12.8 percent (1 in 8) of middle school students reported using some form of tobacco in the past month compared to 34.8 percent of high school students.

Three Phases

Early in the school year, the Stand Tall Against Tobacco (STAT) program is introduced to the students in an assembly. The agenda includes an explanation of the STAT program's three phases, a guest speaker to share his/her life story as a result of tobacco use, and a discussion of the health risks of smokeless tobacco with the presentation of an oral(mouth) cancer slide show.

Classroom Visits

A pair of volunteers presents the STAT curriculum to a classroom of seventh graders. In this interactive session, the students are exposed to issues such as the health risks of tobacco use, peer pressure, tobacco advertising and quitting tobacco.

Annual Student Contests

STAT gets the students involved through a community wide contest. The students have a chance to be creative and illustrate what they have learned about tobacco use. Each school year, the students have been asked to create tobacco prevention or cessation posters.



The Stand Tall Against Tobacco (STAT) program was initiated in the fall of 2000 by the Texas Medical Association-Medical Student Section (TMA-MSS) chapter, the Class of 2003 and the Class of 2004 at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. Initial funding was provided by the Texas Medical Association Foundation and The Texas A&M University Health Science Center. The TMA-MSS officers desired to develop a tobacco prevention and cessation program in the local community. Local seventh grade students were selected as the target audience since research demonstrated that tobacco use begins early and substantially increases during the middle school years. The TMA-MSS officers worked diligently through the fall of 2000 to create the program curriculum, and STAT officially kicked off in conjunction with the Great American Smokeout in November of 2000. The initial year included four student assemblies, 60 classroom visits, and a citywide public service announcement contest. The program reached approximately 1,400 seventh grade students in Bryan and College Station.

STAT Facts

  • 70 percent of smokers want to quit. Less than five percent actually succeed every year.
  • 2,000 teens start smoking every day.
  • Cigarette smoke contains benzene, carbon monoxide, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide and polonium 210.
  • In as little as two weeks nicotine changes the brains chemistry and addiction can begin.
  • In 1999, one year after agreeing to stop billboard advertising, tobacco companies increased advertising spending by 33 percent in magazines with more than 15 percent youth readership.
  • Every eight seconds, someone in the world dies due to tobacco.
  • In 2001, tobacco companies spent about $11 billion marketing their products. That's about $1.5 billion more than the year before.
  • Each cigarette shortens a smokers life by six seconds.
  • Cigarette smoke contains 69 chemical compounds that are known to cause cancer.
  • About one out of every five deaths in the United States can be attributed to tobacco products.



Volunteers come from a variety of student organizations including:

  • Texas A&M College of Medicine
  • Aggie Athletes Involved
  • TAMU Premed Society
  • AMSA Premed
  • Aggie Alliance

David McGee

David McGee is a supporter of the Stand Tall Against Tobacco (STAT) program. He has been with us since STAT was created in the fall of 1999. McGee is a member of the American Cancer Society and volunteers to speak at all of STAT's school assemblies each year. He believes working with middle school students is incredibly important because he does not want anyone to get cancer when they have a choice in the matter. People choose to start smoking, but once someone starts, they become addicted to the nicotine in the cigarettes.

McGee began smoking while he was in middle school. He began to notice almost immediately that smoking had a negative affect on his life. He started skipping class and would not go to movies or go places with his friends were smoking was not allowed. Later in life, McGee joined the Navy and fought during the Vietnam War. All of his military meals came with a package of four cigarettes. He became more and more addicted to cigarettes as he got older. In 1993, McGee was diagnosed with cancer in his larynx (voice box). He had to have part of his voice box removed when the tumor in his throat was removed. He now has a permanent hole in his throat and sometimes needs to speak through a voice box. He was also diagnosed with lung cancer in his right lung in 1993. He had to go through chemo and radiation. In 1994, McGee was diagnosed with lung cancer in his left lung. The cancer could not be surgically removed because it was too close to his heart. He had to fight another round of lung cancer in 1998 and underwent chemo and radiation again. He continues to help educate students about anti-smoking issues while he is currently battling cancer. He was diagnosed with cancer in his right lung which has metastasized to his liver in the fall of 2004.


  • Brazos County Community Healthcare Endowment Fund
  • Texas Medical Association Medical Student Section (TMA-MSS)
  • American Cancer Society
  • John Nettum
  • Prevention Resource Center Region
  • Bryan Independent School District:
  • Jane Long Middle School - Kristy Garcia
  • Sam Rayburn Middle School - Lane Buban
  • Stephen F. Austin Middle School - AlTricia Larke
  • College Station Independent School District:
  • College Station Middle School - Jennifer Rhea
  • A&M Consolidated Middle School - Nkrumah Dixon


Candice Pumphrey, 13 - 7th grade, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan, Texas
"I liked all of it. My favorite part was when we used the straws. I learned that if you want to be an athlete, you shouldn't smoke. You can't run or do much of anything."

Delmus Graves, 14 - 7th grade, Stephen F. Austin Middle School, Bryan, Texas
"I liked when you put out all the poisons that are in tobacco. I didn't know all of that was in there. I would never put that poison in my body."