New report shows a tobacco education speaker can have substantial impact

A new report strongly supports the concept that a tobacco education speaker can have substantial impact among high school students. Clifford Carr, EdD evaluated four live talks given by Patrick Reynolds, and based his findings on data gathered from students following each talk. The talks were given at two high schools in May, 2002, and both schools were located in economically depressed areas of Los Angeles. The evaluation concludes:

In terms of intentions to act and actions taken because of the presentation:

  • 86% of the students surveyed said they would not use tobacco, and another 11% said they would quit soon or not use again
  • 83% agreed or strongly agreed that they were less likely to use tobacco
  • 90% agreed or strongly agreed that because they have more faith in the future they will hold on to their health
  • One-third of those with a parent who uses tobacco would talk to the parent about that use in the tobacco control movement, there has been some doubt about the effectiveness of “one shot activities” like events, or tobacco education speakers.

Recently, however, the State of Florida’s “Truth Campaign,” as well as the American Legacy Foundation, have both formed speakers bureaus. Florida is now supporting the training of youth speakers in several cities. So the old conventional wisdom is now beginning to shift.

Until now, no studies have been done on how effective tobacco education speakers actually are. To the best of our knowledge, there has been no prior research into whether speakers really do have an impact on student smoking rates.

Dr. Carr’s complete report is posted at

The evaluation form used, as well as the teachers’ class discussion guide, distributed to teachers for classroom follow-up, can be found at

Tobaccofree Earth would be pleased to partner with another organization on a grant to undertake a new study to determine whether, one year after a tobacco education speaker’s talk, the smoking rates among students surveyed are lower than at schools which have had no live speakers.

Students could be contacted via phone at their parents’ homes. We were also advised by Clifford Carr, EdD, that in his experience, emailing high school students is an impractical method of long-term communication with them.

The study we are proposing might also compare schools that had just one tobacco ed speaker, to schools that had two or three speakers per year.

Please visit the link to the report,, and check out the good news about the strong potential of tobacco education speakers.

In summary, the news here is that a tobacco education speaker can make a difference.

As a supplement, we have included below a quote by a teacher who was present at two of the four talks covered by Dr. Carr’s report.

Hali Rosen, a teacher at Hawthorne High, saw two of the four talks studied in Cliff Carr’s report. She commented,

“Within the first five minutes, I was amazed to watch Patrick Reynolds create an extraordinary bond with our school’s culturally diverse and economically underprivileged teens.

“After his opening story about his own father’s absence, and the sadness and anger he felt as a youth because of it, he asked the students, ‘How many of you do not have your biological fathers living at home with you?’

“When over 50% of the audience slowly raised their hands, our students seemed to realize that these shared emotions cross all economic and social borders — and a bond was formed.

“After that, the students listened quietly and respectfully, and I could see real interest in their faces, as they related to his overheads and the moving stories he told, so very effectively and skillfully.

“Given my experience with our student body at assembly programs, it was an amazing achievement. Patrick Reynolds is a very polished and motivating speaker who relates exceptionally well to teens from all backgrounds. I would highly recommend him to other schools.”

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