Welcome to UMatter

Only you can make the decision not to use tobacco, alcohol or drugs. This Web site is designed to give you the facts about tobacco, alcohol and drug use in Columbia. It will also provide you with resources to find factual information about the effects of alcohol and drugs, real stories from teenagers like yourself and answer any questions you might have.

Recent Posts:

Only 9% of Teens Smoke Cigarettes

A recent survey found that only 9% of teens in the United States smoke cigarettes. That’s down from 23% in 2000. It’s less than the numbers of landlines still in use and the number of VHS tapes sold in 2013. While this is good news for America’s overall health, tobacco use is still a problem.

Cigarettes have been linked to cancer, lung disease, diabetes, heart conditions, and high blood pressure. Despite knowing the health effects, teenagers still smoke. According to the American Lung Association, every day almost 3,900 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette, and more than 950 of them will become daily smokers. If the trend continues at its current rate, 5.8 million children alive today will die as a result of smoking.

The Truth campaign is working to end teenage smoking all together. Their latest #FinishIt series uses social media to spread awareness about the dangers of smoking. “If we all join forces – smokers and non-smokers – we can end smoking once and for all,” the campaign website states. The campaign encourages teens to not judge, but instead to learn the facts. “We’re not here to criticize your choices, or tell you not to smoke. We’re here to arm everyone – smokers and non-smokers – with the tools to make change,” they say.

Read More

Teen Takes on Bullying by Self-Publishing

On the surface, 18-year-old Aija Mayrock seems like any other artistically inclined teenager. She enjoys reading and hanging out with friends. She dabbles in poetry and has written a few screenplays. But for the past two years, Mayrock has also been immersed in a project particularly close to her heart: she wrote The Survival Guide to Bullyingand self-published it earlier this month.

For Mayrock, the self-publishing process wasn’t easy. She started from scratch and didn’t know where to begin. But with the help of a few influential contacts, Mayrock completed the e-book just in time for an October 1 release date—the start of National Bullying Prevention Month.

Surviving Bullying

Like many young people, Mayrock was bullied throughout her childhood. As a third-grader growing up on New York’s Long Island, she was called fat, ugly, and stupid. “A nothing.” When her classmates weren’t making fun of her during gym, in the lunchroom, or in the girls’ bathroom, they took to the Internet and lambasted her on Facebook, posting mortifying photos and calling her names. It was a humiliating experience, Mayrock admits, and despite her parents’ frequent attempts at intervention, the situation only got worse. To this day, Mayrock says she’s still unsure why her peers hated her so much.

Read More

Ways to Cut Teen Driving Expenses

Few things give parents whiplash like their teen becoming a driver. Between the overwhelming desire to ensure their teen driver’s safety behind the wheel and managing the sticker-shock that comes with that, the transition to adding a new driver to the household can be dizzying.

Having a teen driver is expensive. The cost of driver’s education courses, the licensing process and insuring young drivers can be surprising. But this is not a place where you want to skimp. It is your child’s safety during a notoriously dangerous time, after all.

But adding a young driver to a family’s car insurance policy can jack up the rates by thousands of dollars.

Here are five easy ways to maintain the level of safety for your child, while keeping your expenses in check.

Read More