Kicking butts: Youth head to Washington, D.C., for anti-tobacco advocacy

ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Youth Coalition has chosen four young women to serve as representatives at the Legacy’s Youth Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., this month.

The Leadership Institute is a program focused on creating meaningful partnerships between adults and youth to promote healthier communities. The Washington County Youth Coalition was chosen from among more than 50 applicants to join teams from across the country.

The four young women selected from Washington County are Cierra Parkinson, Maddie Gates, Abigail Dickie and Haylie Baxter. Once in Washington, D.C., they will strategize with other young leaders on how to address the issue of tobacco addiction in local communities. They will be joined by state and local tobacco control organizations to foster the next generation of tobacco control activists.

Teams from the following programs were also chosen to attend:

  • Graham County Students Taking a Road to Success (STARS) from Arizona
  • Evolvement Denver from Colorado
  • Washington County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) from Florida
  • Western Boone Voice from Indiana
  • The 84 Movement from Massachusetts
  • Tobacco Free Mississippi of Panola County
  • ASAP Afterschool Program from Missouri
  • Students Taking on Prevention (STOP) from Nevada

The Washington County Youth Coalition is a volunteer youth group advised by Kaysha Price of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department and Logan Reid of Southwest Prevention. The coalition is an advocacy group focused on tobacco, substance and alcohol abuse prevention in the community.

The Washington County Youth Coalition is Southern Utah’s chapter of Outrage, a statewide youth anti-tobacco movement. The coalition consists of 43 teens representing all seven high schools in Washington County. The group’s motto is “To create a healthier, safer, and better community.”

Robin Koval, Legacy President and CEO, said:

We hope that this gathering will further empower these young people to take an active role in educating their community about the tobacco epidemic and, in turn, create a ripple effect among their peers – creating an army of youth leaders in the fight against big tobacco. With more than 80 percent of adult smokers trying their first cigarette by 18, it is critical that youth leaders are trained to address tobacco-related issues at the local level.

While Utah has one of the lowest rates of teen smoking in the U.S. – 5.9 percent – members of the Washington County Youth Coalition feel there is still work to be done, especially with the increase in new smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

Data released from the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program of Utah in 2013 showed that use of e-cigarettes among Utah youth has tripled within the last two years. The Washington County Youth Coalition members are excited to learn new information and apply it to anti-tobacco work in the local community, according to a press release.

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1 Comment

  • Caleb July 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    more brain-washed do-gooder nazis – just what we need.

    spare us.

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