Board of Directors | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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DJ Yearwood

2023 Barrie Fiske National Youth Advocate of the Year 
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Independence, MO

Darvius (DJ) Yearwood grew up surrounded by family members who smoked — as a child, he would hide their cigarettes from them. He always knew he didn’t like tobacco. But his advocacy journey grew as he learned how the tobacco industry systematically targets vulnerable communities and creates deep-rooted health inequities.

DJ developed a passion for youth advocacy across several issues, and he built strong relationships with policymakers in his community. These relationships continue to deliver results. Recently, he worked with lawmakers to allocate $2.9 million toward Missouri’s tobacco prevention program, the largest investment in tobacco prevention in the state’s history. DJ’s advocacy was critical, and he delivered a speech at the bill’s signing.

DJ’s advocacy work also spans the country. He’s participated in panels, held town halls and even met with FDA officials to support the agency’s proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. He was also an instrumental organizer in the successful referendum in California to end the sale of flavored tobacco products.

DJ is always looking for ways to engage and advocate for his peers. He’s worked with his school district to implement and advise tobacco prevention clubs — and even founded his own nonprofit focusing on peer support and mobilization. Through this nonprofit, DJ is working to repeal a Missouri law that prevents localities from passing ordinances that protect kids from tobacco. DJ is also the Head Defense Attorney for the Jackson County Youth Court where he focuses on educating and supporting young people caught using tobacco products. 

DJ embodies all the qualities of a new generation of leaders catalyzing change for a healthier and more equitable future. We are delighted to honor him with our 2023 Barrie Fiske National Youth Advocate of the Year Award.