May. 10 2006
Washington, DC — The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids today announced the winners of the 2006 Youth Advocates of the Year Awards, an annual competition that honors young people who have made outstanding contributions to tobacco prevention. The youth advocates will receive educational scholarships and grants to continue their tobacco prevention efforts and serve as ambassadors for the Campaign.
The Campaign will also present its Champion Award to Ireland for the country's leadership in the fight against tobacco use. In March 2004, Ireland became the first country to implement a nationwide law requiring that all indoor workplaces and public places be smoke-free, including restaurants and pubs. Mary Harney, Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland and Minister of Health and Children, will accept the award at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' annual gala dinner tonight in Washington, DC.
More than 400 government, public health, political, civic and business leaders will attend the gala to recognize Ireland and the young leaders.
The 2006 Youth Advocates of the Year are:
National: Kaitlyn Reilly, 12th grade, Dover, NH
International Grant Winner: Anjali Gupta, 12th grade, Hockessin, DE
East Region: Emily Martuscello, 10th grade, Dover, NH
South Region: Chad Bullock, 11th grade, Durham, NC
Central Region: Lauren Baisden, 11th grade, Hurley, WI
West Region: DJ DeRego, 9th grade, Juneau, AK
Group: stand, Ohio
National: Kaitlyn Reilly, 17, a senior at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, is currently a leader in New Hampshire's youth anti-tobacco organization, Dover Youth to Youth, of which she has been a member for the past seven years. She has been the leading advocate for a bill in the state Legislature that would dedicate $1.7 million a year to youth tobacco prevention efforts in New Hampshire, a state that currently spends none of its tobacco settlement dollars on tobacco prevention. The bill makes this calculation based on the estimated revenue the state earns each year from taxes on illegal sales of tobacco to minors. Kaitlyn has also spent the past year working to pass a statewide smoke-free workplace bill and has been successful at the local level in making public parks and recreational centers smoke-free.
International Grant Winner: Anjali Gupta, 17, of Hockessin, DE, is a senior at The Charter School of Wilmington and is the founder and current president of the Charter Anti-Tobacco Awareness Club, a local coalition of Kick Butts Generation, Delaware's statewide movement. Over the past year she traveled to Trinidad and Tobago and led workshops at seven middle and high schools across the island. Anjali worked with the students at each school to help them establish Kick Butts Generation groups of their own. In 2004, Anjali launched a campaign in Merida, Mexico, where she gave interactive seminars to students in English and Spanish. Anjali also collaborates with youth organizations in India.
East Region: Emily Martuscello, 15 is a junior at Dover High School. She is a leader in Dover Youth to Youth, of which she has been a member for the last four years. Emily has worked to pass legislation to require that all cigarettes sold in New Hampshire be "fire-safe," or self-extinguishing. She initiated a partnership with the Dover Fire Department, working with the fire chief to inform the New Hampshire Fire Chief Association about cigarette-caused fires. Emily then collaborated with the association to draft the pending legislation. The legislation was proposed in the New Hampshire House in 2004 and was approved by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the summer of 2005. She has also worked on the campaign to pass a statewide smoke-free workplace bill.
South Region: Chad Bullock, 17, of Durham, NC, is a junior at Middle College High School at Durham Technical Community College (DTCC). He has worked for the past three years with the Question Why Youth Empowerment Center and T.R.U. (Tobacco. Reality. Unfiltered.), both statewide efforts in North Carolina. He has led a project opposing Brown & Williamson's Kool Mixx marketing campaign, which utilized hip-hop images and music to market cigarettes. He collaborated with the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and worked with other youth advocates to collect examples of Kool advertisements and promotions, documenting possible tobacco settlement violations. He wrote a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and helped to spark the joint effort between Attorneys General and advocates that brought an end to the Kool Mixx campaign.
Chad is also working to build support for smoke-free workplaces in his community. He has developed an outreach project to the Golden Coral restaurant corporation in the Durham area. He has met with the CEO of the company and is working to encourage the entire chain to go smoke-free. He also hopes to implement a smoke-free campus policy at Durham Technical Community College.
Central Region: Lauren Baisden, 17, of Hurley, WI, is a junior at Hurley K-12 and has been a leader in Wisconsin's youth anti-tobacco movement called FACT – Fighting Against Corporate Tobacco. She has been a member of FACT's statewide youth board for the past four years and is currently the president of her FACT county chapter. Lauren took the lead in organizing other board members to create a statewide action kit that focused on reducing tobacco use among the state's most vulnerable populations.
Lauren has also been a member of the Community Coalition for Clean Indoor Air for three years and presents to her city council about the need for smoke-free workplaces. She advocated to prevent the passage of a weak smoke-free workplace law in Wisconsin by calling her local representative and writing a creative op-ed that was published in her local paper.
West Region: DJ DeRego, 15, of Juneau, AK, is a freshman at Juneau Douglas High School and is a leader within his local youth coalition, Juneau Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU). DJ helped to strengthen Juneau's smoke-free law by testifying before the city assembly, and he continues to advocate that the assembly tighten a loophole in the ordinance. The loophole allows bars and restaurants with bar areas to choose to allow smoking if they limit their patrons to age 18 and older. DJ has also worked with other TATU members to write a public service announcement that was broadcast on a local radio station and helped to organize a display of 1200 empty pairs of shoes to symbolize the 1200 Americans who die every day because of tobacco for the Tobacco-Free Kids' Kick Butts Day. Through his work with TATU, DJ has had the opportunity to present to students in elementary and middle schools throughout the Juneau area, reaching hundreds of young people with his message.
Group: Founded in 2002, Ohio's statewide youth anti-tobacco group, stand, includes representatives from more than 70 stand teams in 60 counties across the Ohio. The movement includes nearly 2,000 active youth members across the state and more than 60,000 web registrants at www.standonline.org.
For the past four years, stand has been helping to reduce youth tobacco use in Ohio by using creative activism to educate the public and policy leaders about tobacco issues. In 2005, stand members testified at city council meetings across the state in favor of smoke-free workplace laws. stand members have also spoken out about the need to adequately fund Ohio's tobacco prevention program, leading a rally at the state capitol and speaking before legislative committees, as well as meeting with individual legislators.
stand has delivered thousands of petitions from across Ohio and the rest of the country to MTV's headquarters, requesting that the network stop glamorizing tobacco in its programming. stand also recently concluded a major statewide activism campaign, Project SUSO (stand up, speak out), that spanned stand 's three priority issues of glamorization of tobacco, tobacco-free schools and smoke-free workplaces. Project SUSO was framed as a statewide activism contest, with stand teams earning points for their activism efforts, creativity, and media coverage generated. There were a total of 1,842 registered contest participants, 35 competing stand teams, and 714 individual acts of activism that took place across the state in the fall of 2005.
"These young leaders 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, 1,500 kids in the United States become daily smokers and 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."