May. 8 2002
Washington, DC — The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS today announced the winners of the 2002 Youth Advocates of the Year Awards, an annual competition that honors young people who have made outstanding contributions to tobacco prevention.
More than 450 public health, civic and business leaders will join members of Congress and the Administration at the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS seventh annual gala tonight in Washington, D.C., to recognize these young leaders. The winners will receive educational scholarships and grants to continue their tobacco prevention and control efforts and serve as ambassadors for the CAMPAIGN. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall will also be honored by receiving the CAMPAIGN's Champion Award, which recognizes national leaders in tobacco control. The winners:
National: Katherine Klem, 10th Grade, Louisville, KY
International Grant Winner: Terra Gearhart, 11th Grade, Alburquerque, NM
East Region: Cynthia Loesch, 11th Grade, Boston, MA
South Region: Jacob Baime, 10th Grade, Tampa, FL
Central Region: Jaime Fiorucci-Hughes, 10th Grade, Louisburg, KS
West Region: Sarah Yamin, 11th Grade, Ridgefield, WA
Group: Garretson T.A.T.U. (Teens Against Tobacco Use), Garretson, SD
"These young leaders from across the nation are making great strides against youth tobacco addiction and their voices are being heard," said Matthew L. Myers, CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS president. "Every day, 2,000 kids in the United States become regular smokers and roughly one-third of them will die prematurely from tobacco-caused disease. Almost 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before the age of 18. Youth are powerful allies in the fight to turn these trends around."
The 2002 Youth Advocates of the Year are:
National: Katherine Klem, 16, of Louisville, Kentucky, is a 10th grader at Assumption High School. Tobacco control hits close to home for Katherine, who is a resident of a tobacco growing state that has one of the nation's highest smoking rates and a city that is home to the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company. Katherine has revitalized a statewide youth tobacco control movement that had almost disappeared in Kentucky, and she currently serves as Statewide Youth Coordinator and Youth Spokesperson for the movement, called Project START (Students Taking Action Regarding Tobacco). This past November, Katherine organized a smoke-free dining campaign in which Project START members called over 400 restaurants in Louisville to ask them to go smoke-free, and then coordinated a media event to honor the 40 restaurants that agreed to be smoke-free for the day.
Katherine also is advocating at the state level to increase the state tobacco excise tax, which is currently the second lowest in the country at only three cents. In February, Katherine gathered 400 students from across Kentucky for a "Caravan to the Capitol." Not only did Katherine coordinate a training day before the rally so the students would be prepared to meet with their legislators, she also led the rally on the Capitol's front steps, accompanied by the First Lady of Kentucky and seven state representatives.
International Grant Winner: Terra Gearhart, 17, of Alburquerque, New Mexico, is an 11th grader at The Learning Community Charter School. As the tobacco industry aggressively targets kids around the world, the CAMPAIGN is stepping up its international efforts as well. Terra is the first recipient of the CAMPAIGN's International Grant recognizing outstanding youth advocacy at the international level and will represent the CAMPAIGN at the European Conference on Tobacco or Health June 20-22 in Warsaw, Poland. Last year, Terra was recognized as the CAMPAIGN's South Region Youth Advocate of the Year. Since, she has continued her advocacy work at the local, state and federal levels in the U.S. and also has begun coordinating with international tobacco control advocates. Last November, she won a scholarship to the National Conference on Tobacco or Health, where she met with international advocates. She continues to work with these advocates to initiate a youth coalition in Uganda. She also is collaborating with advocates in England, the Czech Republic, Poland and Sri Lanka as she conducts research in preparation for her upcoming presentation at the European Conference on Tobacco or Health.
East Region: Cynthia Loesch, 16, of Boston, Massachusetts, is an 11th grader at Boston Latin Academy. This is the second year in a row that Cynthia has received the Youth Advocate of the Year Award for the East Region. This year, Cynthia has been even more active in tobacco control efforts. This past summer she represented the CAMPAIGN at the annual Tar Wars conference, in which 4th and 5th graders competed in a poster contest at the American Academy of Family Physicians conference; and at a Smoke-Free Soccer theme night with the Boston Breakers. Cynthia has continued her work with Teens Against Tobacco in Boston. After helping to convince the Boston Globe to cancel a $1 million tobacco advertising contract and to stop taking tobacco ads all together, Cynthia is now leading a new campaign to convince local pharmacies and supermarket chains to stop selling tobacco products. Cynthia also has been fighting to prevent cuts to the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program.
South Region: Jacob Baime, 16, of Tampa, Florida, is a 10th grader at Hillsborough High School. Jacob has been very active in SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), Florida's youth tobacco prevention movement that created the state's highly successful "truth" anti-tobacco advertising campaign. He is currently serving as the Region 4 Representative on the SWAT State Executive Committee. Jacob has demonstrated his strong leadership ability in various advocacy campaigns. He played an instrumental role in passing the Hillsborough County Tobacco Placement Ordinance. This countywide policy mandates that tobacco products be sold as "clerk assisted" rather than self-serving, and prohibits tobacco advertisement placement below four feet from the ground (children's eye level). This ordinance has become a model for other counties.
Jacob also worked with tobacco control advocates when Florida's tobacco prevention programs were threatened with budget cuts. He met with state legislators and spoke to the media, ultimately helping to reduce the cuts and save the Florida Tobacco Control Program.
Central Region: Jaime Fiorucci-Hughes, 16, of Louisburg, Kansas, is a 10th grader at Paola High School. She has been involved in TASK, Teens Against Smoking in Kansas, for the past three years. She is currently serving as a youth member of the State Executive Board. Jaime has worked as a member of the TASK Creative Team to design a new mission statement, logo, web site and recruitment commercial that is now being broadcast throughout the state. Jaime also has played an instrumental role in organizing TASK's statewide van tours and STAR (Smoke-free Teens Are Rising) rallies. The van tours and rallies take place throughout Kansas to educate students and recruit youth members for TASK. Jamie has taught both high school and middle school students about tobacco control issues and changing local policy. She plans to expand upon these efforts at upcoming Supernova Rallies, which educate elementary school students about the dangers of tobacco. Tobacco control programming at Jaime's own school has been funded through two grants that she helped write. She and her advisor worked closely to plan the details of the events and the curriculum for all students in grades 6-12. Jaime has also just been appointed as the youth member of the Board of Directors for the American Legacy Foundation, which works to reduce teen tobacco use and educate all populations about tobacco-related disease, most notably through their familiar "truth" campaign.
West Region: Sarah Yamin, 17, of Ridgefield, Washington, is an 11th grader at Skyview High School. She began her anti-tobacco advocacy work as a founding member of BREATHE, a local youth tobacco control coalition. Sarah also is involved in state tobacco control efforts. She is one of only four youth members of the Washington State Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Implementation Advisory Committee. She also was selected as one of six youth for a statewide pilot program to teach young people about media literacy and tobacco. She and the other five students will coordinate lesson plans and facilitate workshops for high school students throughout Washington to raise awareness about tobacco control issues and to demonstrate how the tobacco industry uses media to target teens. In the coming year, Sarah plans to address community specific issues including tobacco-free public parks and a ban on smoking in bowling alleys.
Group: Garretson T.A.T.U. (Teens Against Tobacco Use) members attend Garretson, South Dakota Public Schools #49-4. They were instrumental in helping to pass a Clean Indoor Air bill in South Dakota earlier this year, something the state legislature had defeated for years. To support the bill, T.A.T.U. members traveled to the Capitol to educate legislators about the dangers of secondhand smoke. Other members organized letter writing and e-mailing campaigns, wrote letters to the editor and worked with the media to cover their efforts. The Governor has since signed the bill into law, fulfilling a goal that has taken South Dakota tobacco control advocates over a decade to achieve.
Garretson T.A.T.U. also organized and ran a 25-mile relay run from Garretson to the Sioux Falls Regional Airport to raise awareness and support for a vote to make the airport smoke-free. The airport authority subsequently created an enclosed smoking area that reduces the amount of secondhand smoke exposure to airport patrons.
To reduce smoking among youth, Garretson T.A.T.U. convinced the School Board to adopt a policy T.A.T.U. drafted making all school grounds and facilities tobacco-free. In addition, they responded to their school's use of book covers supplied by tobacco giant Philip Morris by changing school policy to mandate that all promotional materials be reviewed and approved by the Drug and Alcohol Task Team.
The Champion Award Winners are:
Senator Daschle has been a strong advocate for tobacco prevention. In 1998, as then-Minority Leader, he worked tirelessly to unify the Democratic Caucus behind comprehensive tobacco reform legislation. He has also recently spoken in support of legislation that would give the U.S. Food & Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco. He also worked hard to pass campaign finance reform legislation in the Senate – a critical component of the fight against Big Tobacco's ceaseless efforts to gain influence in Congress.
Kansas Attorney General Stovall in 1996 became the 11th state attorney general to sue the tobacco industry. She was also among the first Republican AGs in the country to file against Big Tobacco. In 1999, Ms. Stovall became a founding board member of the American Legacy Foundation, which works to reduce teen tobacco use and educate all populations about tobacco-related disease, most notably through their familiar "truth" campaign. Ms. Stovall fights for tobacco prevention as a member of the Kansas Children's Cabinet, which makes recommendations to the State Legislature on how to spend tobacco settlement dollars.
The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS works to protect kids from tobacco and reduce the deaths and disease caused by tobacco use. For more information about the Youth Advocates of the Year Awards and youth advocacy in the fight against tobacco, visit the Campaign's Web site at www.tobaccofreekids.org.