Youth Speakers Inspire Peers to Make a Difference on Tobacco Use
WASHINGTON, July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Young people from around the country are spreading the word about tobacco use and inspiring teens to get involved in the fight against the deadly addiction of nicotine through a new speakers bureau program launched by t
Community-based tobacco prevention programs across the country, often spurred by funding to states from the Master Settlement Agreement, are mobilizing young people in record numbers in the battle against youth tobacco use. This unprecedented movement has created an interest among thousands of young people to learn more about the tobacco issue and how to make a change in their communities.
``Tobacco control groups, schools and community organizations have called upon Legacy since its doors opened to help educate young people on the tobacco issue and to provide their organizations with effective ideas for creating change locally,'' said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr. P.H., president and CEO of the foundation. ``Our speakers are an amazing bunch of young people who have been involved in this issue and have made significant contributions toward a tobacco-free society. They will be a powerful source of knowledge and inspiration to the young people they address.''
Fifteen well-trained, ethnically diverse speakers, age 18 and older, were recruited from a national pool of young people representing tobacco control groups and community organizations. The speakers are available to give presentations on a variety of tobacco prevention topics. They are available for summits, trainings, and other educational engagements. Legacy covers speaker fees and presentations; organizations need only provide travel and accommodations costs for the speakers.
``When I talk to my peers about the tobacco issue, they are totally amazed by what they hear. But, there is a lot of false information out there and a lot of people still don't know how the industry has targeted young people with their ads and that they add chemicals to cigarettes which makes them more addictive,'' said Erick Hong from Virginia, 18, one of the speakers. ``The speakers bureau gives me the opportunity to tell others and get them motivated to make a difference.''
``One of the great things about this program is I can be involved on a national level by speaking to young people across the country while staying involved in my local organization. In turn, my experiences in my home state, where I'm one of the founders of our youth tobacco prevention group S.W.A.T. (Students Working Against Tobacco), allows me to help other young people who want to start their own organizations in their hometowns,'' said Thomas Purvis, 19, a speakers bureau member from Oklahoma.
Organizations such as state and local tobacco control programs, national and local youth organizations, and schools and conferences that are interested in enlisting a speakers bureau representative can get more information on the program online at: http://www.americanlegacy.org or by contacting Shelley Whiddon at 202-408-4755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legacy, which funds truth(SM), the nation's largest anti-tobacco campaign for teens, will launch several youth activism programs this year in addition to the speakers bureau, including a national internship program involving the foundation and its advertising partners, a youth advisory panel, and an online youth activism network.
American Legacy Foundation is a national, independent, public health foundation located in Washington, D.C. The foundation, created by the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, fights for the health and well being of all generations of Americans by challenging the issue of tobacco in the United States. The foundation has established goals to reduce youth tobacco use, decrease exposure to second-hand smoke, increase successful quit rates and reduce disparities in access to prevention and cessation services and in exposure to secondhand smoke.