HELENA – Area students are being recognized for their work to discourage smoking among their peers.

On Thursday afternoon, students from different counties around the area received certificates and gift cards after designing artwork that discourages tobacco use.

The first and second place winners’ artwork has been placed on two billboards outside Helena. The first place winner’s design is on a billboard outside East Helena and the second place winner’s is near Clancy.

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The contest was organized by Lewis and Clark public health to counter advertising efforts by tobacco companies who spend about $30 million a year marketing their products in Montana.

The first place winners’ billboard outside East Helena.

First place winner Alayna Kranich, a sophomore at Helena High School, designed her piece with classmates. The design is centered around a bear trap with a cigarette, suggesting smoking is a trap set my tobacco companies.

Kranich said the billboard, which will be displayed for eight weeks, is a great way to shed light on the dangers of smoking.

“It’s like shocking because people pay some much money to put things up there and I got to do that for free and it brings so much awareness to a big issue,” Kranich said.

Lewis and Clark Public Health received close to forty entries for the tobacco billboard contest, which was open to students in Broadwater, Jefferson and Lewis and Clark counties.

The campaign and the billboards were funded through a grant from the React Against Corporate Tobacco group, a youth-led movement that aims to lobby against big tobacco companies.

The first place design was awarded to Kranich, Samantha Hill and Evan Martin of Helena High School. Second place went to Ronnie Steele of Broadwater High School. Third place went to Ali Heimbach of the Project for Alternative Learning, and fourth place went to Kylee Gardipee of Helena Middle School.

This is the second year public health has sponsored the contest.