Apr. 8 1997
Washington, DC - The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS today announced one national and five regional winners of its second annual Youth Advocate of the Year Award, a nationwide competition that recognizes outstanding young tobacco-control activists. Anna Markee, 15, a 10th grader at Foss High School in Tacoma, WA, was named the national Youth Advocate of the Year. Anna effectively mobilizes her peers in documenting tobacco advertising throughout her city, and played a vital role in the passage of the local board of health’s "Truth in Tobacco Advertising" resolution to restrict all forms of outdoor tobacco advertising. She serves as an elected officer of SMOOTH -- Students Mobilizing Others Out of Tobacco Habits -- a Tacoma organization run by high school students and aimed at promoting tobacco-free lifestyles. Ms. Markee also displayed initiative in countering the tobacco industry sponsorship of sporting events by getting a car donated to SMOOTH, painting it to resemble a tobacco-sponsored racing car, and inviting community members to smash it in defiance during "World No Tobacco Day." "We received nominations for many distinguished individuals from all over the country, but the work of these students as tobacco-control advocates best exemplified the award criteria," said William D. Novelli, president of the CAMPAIGN. "Our national and regional winners represent the best and brightest of young leaders who are working to keep their schools, classmates and communities smoke-free." The winners will be honored for their tobacco-control work at a gala event April 10 in Washington, D.C. Vice President Gore is honorary chairman of the event. All six winners will represent the CAMPAIGN as youth advocates in 1997. The Youth Advocate of the Year gala dinner caps "Kick Butts Day," a national call-to-action in more than 50 cities where students, teachers, parents and elected officials will stand up and speak out to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s powerful promotional strategies aimed at children and teenagers. "Mr. Butts," the satirical Doonesbury character and the inspiration for the name "Kick Butts Day," was created by Garry Trudeau and is featured in his nationally-syndicated comic strip. The Regional Youth Advocate of the Year winners are: East Region: Lara Green Spector, 14, a 9th grader from Montclair, NJ, is an innovative leader in addressing the problem of youth access to tobacco products. She drafted and was largely responsible for the passage of a Montclair town ordinance to ban both cigarette vending machines and countertop tobacco displays in local businesses. Lara, a student at Montclair High School, also organized a town-wide program for the 1996 "Great American Smokeout," which included a poster contest in the elementary schools and a quiz contest in the middle schools. Mid-West Region: Emily Broxterman, 14, a 9th grader at Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, KS, has been very effective at persuading lawmakers about the need for measures to protect children from tobacco. She played a vital role in passing a bill to restrict youth access to tobacco products in the Kansas legislature. She also organized a day-long event in Topeka, which was attended by hundreds of students, to educate them about tobacco. Central Region: Nathan Rice, 12, a 7th grader from Denver, CO, is a creative thinker who has the ability to communicate ideas effectively. He played an important role in passing a bill in the Colorado Senate to impose up to a $100 fine on any minor possessing tobacco. Nathan won the Denver Optimist Club’s contest for his anti-smoking speech. He is also a member of STRUT, Stop Teenage Rise and Use of Tobacco, at Baker Middle School. South Region: Noel Reynolds, 17, a 12th grader from Elgin, SC, is actively engaged in battling the tobacco industry’s efforts to market its deadly products to children. She participated in an award-winning project documenting the number of tobacco billboards and tobacco outlets within two blocks of schools in Richland county. She is chair of the Richland Fighting Back Youth Committee, an organization that has focused on tobacco prevention education for elementary age youth. She is also a member of the Coalition for the Tobacco-Free Midlands, and attends Spring Valley High School in Columbia. West Region: Chris Nava, 15, a 10th grader from Las Cruces, NM, is an active leader in the Las Cruces Housing Authority’s "Teens Need Teens" (TNT) program, and devotes his time to educating his peers about the health effects of using tobacco. A student at Mayfield High School, Chris has conducted more than 60 tobacco compliance checks in his community and has informed merchants about laws regarding sales to minors. The national winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship and the regional winners will each receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Calvert Group, a socially responsible investment company in Bethesda, MD. "Collectively, these young people have done outstanding work combating the tobacco industry’s efforts to addict a new generation of smokers," Novelli said. "We look forward to their serving as the CAMPAIGN’s youth advocates throughout the year." Nominations for the awards were received from more than 35 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam. Young people were nominated for anti-tobacco activities, including: teaching classmates about the dangers of tobacco use, passing local ordinances to restrict youth access to tobacco, helping to keep their schools smoke-free, and speaking out against cigarette ads that may appeal to children. A selection committee made up of representatives from national tobacco-control organizations reviewed the nominations and recommended the winners. Winners were chosen based on their initiative, leadership, creative thinking, problem solving and effective communication abilities, and for their impact on state or local activities related to youth access to tobacco. Last year’s national winner was Anna Santiago, a 14-year-old from Highland Park, IL. As the 1996 youth advocate of the year, Anna served as a spokesperson at media events and shared her views on the tobacco industry’s skill at marketing its products to kids by speaking at a New York City luncheon for editors and publishers of teen and health magazines. The highlight of Anna Santiago’s tenure was her introduction of President Clinton at a White House event in February to announce the implementation of the first phase of the FDA rule to combat teen smoking. The CAMPAIGN’s celebrity youth ambassadors, Rider Strong of ABC’s Friday night hit, "Boy Meets World," and Larisa Oleynik, star of Nickelodeon’s top-rated show, "The Secret World of Alex Mack," will present the awards to the national and regional winners on April 10 in Washington. HBO, a corporate sponsor of the gala, will also premiere its special video highlighting the tobacco-control activities of the national and regional winners. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest 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.