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Youth Leaders Sharpen Skills for Fight against Tobacco

July 22, 2013


About 90 percent of adult smokers begin smoking at or before age 18. As a result, youth play an important role in the fight against tobacco by encouraging their peers to stay tobacco-free, exposing the harmful marketing of the tobacco industry and urging elected leaders to protect America’s kids from tobacco.

Yesterday, more than 50 youth activists from across the country arrived here in Washington, D.C., for our 10th Youth Advocacy Symposium. Over the next week, they will participate in skill-building workshops on leadership, advocacy and communications.

Tomorrow, the youth activists will meet with members of Congress to urge that they support strong policies to reduce tobacco use, which is the nation’s number one cause of preventable death. Each year, tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills.

Specifically, the youth will urge members of Congress to support programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, including the highly successful Tips from Former Smokers campaign conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The youth advocates will also participate in a webcast titled “The Passion and Power of Young People in the Ongoing Fight Against Big Tobacco.” It’s part of Legacy’s Kenneth E. Warner Lecture Series.

The youth will cap off the week with a demonstration in front of the White House. Dressed in costumes representing different decades, they will carry posters showing notable moments in the fight against tobacco since the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report, which first alerted the nation to the deadly consequences of smoking. The 50th anniversary of the report is coming up in January 2014.

Youth are vital to winning the fight against tobacco, and we are excited to help foster the next generation of leaders.