Meet Our 2012 National Youth Advocate of the Year: Gabe Glissmeyer
Utah Advocate helps launch 'It's All About the Packaging" campaign; fights Big Tobacco targeting LGBT youth
Posted by: Gabe Glissmeyer, 2012 National Youth Advocate of the Year | May 18, 2012
I am so honored to have received this award from the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, and for the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to accept it. It’s also been very exciting to be able to work with my fellow youth advocates, who have each done amazing things in their communities to prevent tobacco use and help save lives.
Our stories are so different, but we have the same goal of using our most powerful weapons — our own stories, our own experiences and our own voices — to change the world.
I became involved in the fight against tobacco when I learned about how the tobacco industry targets youth and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
At One Good Reason, Utah’s youth-led anti-tobacco group, we launched a campaign called “It’s All about the Packaging.” The goal was to make the public aware of new and appealing products and packaging that Big Tobacco was using to target kids. We surveyed 1,800 Utah teens about dissolvable tobacco products and the way they were packaged and marketed. Youth told us that the more appealing the package appeared, the more likely it was that teens would try the product. Some said they thought the tobacco products packaged in this attractive way are safer!
Our initiative was featured on national television and results were provided to the state of Colorado, where dissolvable products were being test-marketed.
I learned early in my tobacco-control advocacy about Project SCUM, which stands for “subculture urban marketing.” That’s what a tobacco company called its plan to market cigarettes to gay people and the homeless. I’ve started a group called Out of the Smoke, which focuses on tobacco prevention and cessation in the LGBT community and helps youth get involved in advocacy.
Besides fighting tobacco industry marketing, we must also keep fighting to strengthen the good tobacco control policies that already are in place. During this year’s legislative session in Utah, we worked to prohibit the use of hookahs and electronic cigarettes under the state’s comprehensive smoke-free law. I was proud to personally talk with legislators and testify about the importance of this bill to the health of the state of Utah – and we were thrilled to win!
Next year I’ll begin my pre-med studies at the University of Utah, where I will use my knowledge of tobacco control and my activist energy to continue my work and inspire my fellow students to join in it.
All of the youth advocates I’ve met in Washington have done truly amazing work.
Watch us in action!
Gabe Glissmeyer, 2012 National Youth Advocate of the Year
Reality Check, 2012 Youth Advocate of the Year Group Winner
2012 Regional Youth Advocate of the Year Awardees