Dec. 27 1999
Washington, DC - Actor/director Rob Reiner will serve as chairman of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO FREE-KIDS’ 1999 Youth Advocates of the Year Awards gala on April 29. This annual event recognizes outstanding young tobacco control activists who have distinguished themselves as leaders among thousand of kids working to protect their peers, communities, and the nation from tobacco addiction. The Youth Advocates of the Year Awards program, now in its fourth year, was created to encourage tobacco control activism and leadership among the nation’s youth, who are the direct targets of billions of dollars of tobacco marketing each year. The CAMPAIGN will honor one national winner, five regional winners, and a group winner. They will serve as spokespersons for the CAMPAIGN, work in their communities against tobacco, and encourage kids across the country to become more active against tobacco use. Reiner, perhaps best known for his memorable son-in-law role on the CBS sitcom All in the Family, has devoted substantial time and resources to tobacco control and other issues affecting children. Last fall, he spearheaded a successful campaign for passage of California’s Proposition 10, an initiative designed to fund early childhood development and anti-tobacco programs through an increase in the state’s tobacco tax. “We are thrilled that Rob Reiner is chair of our 1999 Youth Advocates of the Year Awards gala,” said Bill Novelli, CAMPAIGN president. “He is a champion of children’s issues. His leadership in the recent passage of California’s tobacco tax increase makes him a terrific role model for young tobacco control activists.” Reiner’s work with the California Children and Families Initiative is part of his personal crusade to shift the national consciousness to value early childhood development. As an activist for infants and young children, Reiner was instrumental in initiating a White House conference on early childhood development. In addition, he has produced a television special to draw attention to the subject, and has launched the “I Am Your Child” national awareness and engagement campaign about the need for quality early childhood development programs. Reiner has also directed blockbuster films including: When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men, and Ghosts of Mississippi. “Tobacco hooks more than 3,000 children every day,” said Reiner. “It is crucial that we provide our young children with the building blocks necessary for healthy lives, and recognize and support young people who are making a difference.” As in 1998, the 1999 awards will be presented in Washington, D.C., at the National Building Museum. The gala will be held on April 29 at 6:30 p.m. More than 500 attendees are expected, including members of Congress, individuals representing the public health community, corporate America, and kids. Last year, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), gala emcee actress S. Epatha Merkerson, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Chairman and Co-Founder Ben Cohen spoke at the event. This year’s youth advocate winners will be selected by a committee made up of representatives from national public health organizations. Award recipients will be chosen based on their initiative, leadership, creative thinking, problem solving, communication skills, and for their impact on state and local activities related to youth access to tobacco. The 1998 Youth Advocates of the Year Award recipients include National Winner Emily Broxterman of Overland Park, Kansas; East Regional Winner Michael Higgins of Monroeville, New Jersey; West Regional Winner Annie Aguilar of Alhambra, California; Midwest Regional Winner Gretchen Sneegas of Indianapolis, Indiana; Central Regional Winner Amanda Tunnell of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; South Regional Winner Deanna Durrett of Louisville, Kentucky; and Group Winner S.H.O.C.K. Coalition of Queens, New York. Each of the winners received grants to continue his/her local efforts to educate kids about the dangers of tobacco. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest non-government initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation’s attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids. For more information on the 1999 Youth Advocates of the Year Awards, including instructions on nominating outstanding young tobacco control activists, call the CAMPAIGN or visit its web site at www.tobaccofreekids.org. For more information on the gala, call Tonya Buford at 202/296-5469.