Asheville, N.C. – 37 youth from Buncombe County joined more than 300 youth tobacco use prevention advocates in Raleigh on Thursday, Feb. 16th to celebrate successes in reducing youth tobacco use over the past decade. The celebration highlighted the successes achieved since North Carolina first began spending a portion of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds on smoking prevention and cessation programs, which have resulted in the lowest youth smoking rates in North Carolina’s history. Youth advocates met their legislators, heard from experts in the field of tobacco use prevention and watched democracy in action by observing legislative session in both the N.C. House and Senate.
Tyler Long, the President of Asheville High’s Teens Against Tobacco Club (TATU), said "Tobacco prevention is important to him because youth need to meet with their legislators so that the legislators can put a face to those who are pushing for change in North Carolina. The youth are the future leaders and it is important that we get experience with law makers because they are the ones we are ultimately asking for change from.”
Emma Harper from Asheville High said, “I was honored to meet the legislators because it showed that the cause I am advocating is important enough to them that they took the time to talk about it with us. Tobacco prevention is so important to me because it is such a preventable cause of death that any action we take against it saves lives.”
In Buncombe County our Tobacco Reality Unfiltered youth groups have been working to eliminate tobacco sponsorship at Bele Chere, meeting with legislators, doing educational trainings at middle schools, and doing peer trainings for other counties.
10:30 am- Legislator Meetings
Asheville High, Owen High, and North Buncombe High Youth meet with Rep. Tim Moffitt
North Buncombe High and T.C. Roberson High Youth meet with Sen. Nesbitt.
Asheville High Youth meet with Rep. Susan Fisher and Rep. Patsy Keever.
11:00 am- Opening Session: 3rd Floor Legislative Auditorium
Betsy Vetter, Chair, North Carolina Alliance for Health
Speaker of the House Thom Tillis
Tyler Long, Youth Empowered Solutions
Leah Devlin, Former State Health Director
12:00 pm - Legislative Session Began: House and Senate Chambers
Participants watched the opening of the legislative session in the House and Senate.
1:00 pm - Tobacco Use Prevention Successes: A TRU Celebration: Halifax Mall
Christine Laucher, Tobacco Team Leader; Youth Empowered Solutions
Wade Hampton, SAVE - Survivors and Victims of Tobacco Empowerment
Cameron Green, QuitlineNC Success Story
Dr. Adam Goldstein, Professor, UNC Family Medicine and
Director, UNC Tobacco Intervention Programs
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year. Every day, more than 4,000 kids try their first cigarettes; another 1,000 kids become addicted smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.
TRU—Tobacco Reality Unfiltered: The TRU initiative has successfully reduced teen smoking in North Carolina to historic lows. Throughout the year, students involved in the TRU Movement take the lead in their communities to protect kids from tobacco by working with elected officials to develop policies that reduce youth tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke and educating their peers about tobacco companies’ deceptive marketing practices. Learn more at http://www.realityunfiltered.com
Since 2003, funding for the award-winning program and media campaign has been provided by NC’s portion of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, as approved by the General Assembly. The program’s future is uncertain after this funding year. Without funding, progress in reducing teen tobacco use in North Carolina will likely stall and tobacco use rates will eventually begin to climb to previous levels. Only consistent, ongoing funding and programming will make North Carolina’s youth safer from the influences that encourage them to use tobacco.