When it comes to finding the truth about smoking Brittanie Clarke does not have to look very far. All she has to do is look into the eyes of her young brother, Marshall.
Brittanie's adopted brother's parents were both smokers and he was born with a form of lung disease and restricted airways. The poison of cigarette smoke can have an immediate and deadly effect on her 3-year-old brother, who was adopted by Brittanie's parents, Rene and Cole Clarke of Castle Dale, last November.
Although Marshall, who lived with the Clarke's as a foster child prior to being adopted by them, has trouble breathing and faces challenges throughout his life, Rene said he is doing well.
"He'll have other troubles throughout his life, but he's doing all right," she said.
When Brittanie's class was challenged with creating an anti-tobacco advertisement for the Utah Department of Health's Youth Coalition Truth From Youth Anti-tobacco Advertising Contest last year, Brittanie had plenty of inspiration.
"I thought about my little brother," 12-year-old Brittanie said.
In its fifth year, the Truth From Youth Anti-tobacco Advertising Contest encourages youth from throughout the state to create radio, TV and billboard ads to counter the massive advertising campaigns put on by the tobacco industry. Last year Brittanie and her 6th grade class at Castle Dale Elementary were assigned by their teacher, Cynthia Grant, with the task of creating an ad of their own.
Brittanie said after thinking about it for a while and thinking about the affects of secondhand smoke on her little brother, she came up with her idea for an ad. She drew a picture of a dollar bill and in place of President George Washington's picture on the bill she exchanged it with a picture of her little brother. Beneath the bill she wrote the words: "Smoking: Who Really Pays the Price."
Brittanie entered her ad in the billboard category of the contest. Proud of what she had done, Brittanie said she hoped she might win something in the contest, but when the results were announced Brittanie and her family were excited to find that her ad had won first place in the state.
"I thought I'd get something for it, but I didn't think I'd get
that," Brittanie said shyly.
In May Brittanie's family went to Franklin Covey Field in Salt Lake for the presentation of winning entries. The thought of standing before a large crowd of people to accept her award was met with trepidation by Brittanie.
"She's real shy about things like that. She thought she was going to die when she had to go up there," Rene said.
Brittanie was presented with $150 for her first place ad, money she used to buy a Game Boy.
The anti-tobacco advertising contest groups winning entries in elementary, junior and senior high categories with cash prizes for first place, second and third. Best of contest winners receive not only a cash prize, but they have the opportunity to help produce their ads. While Brittanie's ad did not win best of contest, her ad is being seen by people in the Emery and Carbon County area.
The Southeastern Utah Health Department in Price has created the ad and arranged for it to be displayed at local movie theaters before movie showings. The health department is also creating flyers of the ad to be placed in the area.
Having her ad created and used by the health department "was cool" Brittanie said, although she admits to having told only a few of her select friends about the news.
With the fifth annual anti-tobacco contest under way Brittanie said she plans to enter again this year. "I don't have any ideas yet," she said.
But she'll think of something.