The students were among 133 from thirty-three states who participated in the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Digital Advocacy Symposium, a five-day online training session focused on building advocacy, communications and leadership skills.
The ambassadors will work with the campaign to advocate for policies to reduce youth tobacco use at the federal, state, and local levels, including the ending of the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
Abigail Bruns, 20, of Lakeside Park, is set to begin her junior year of college and has been involved in tobacco control and prevention work for one year. She became inspired to get involved as an Ambassador because of the vaping she’s seen in her own community, and her ambitions of pursuing a career in government and policymaking.
“We are thrilled to welcome this new class of Youth and Young Adult Ambassadors, whose passion and leadership will help us create the first tobacco-free generation,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Young people are critical voices in the fight against tobacco because they speak from experience about how they are targeted by the tobacco industry. Policy makers should listen and support strong policies to protect our kids, including a prohibition on all flavored tobacco products.”
In Kentucky, 8.9 percent of high school students smoke traditional cigarettes, while 26.1 percent use e-cigarettes. Tobacco use claims 8,900 lives in Kentucky each year.
The Youth and Young Adult Ambassadors were selected through a competitive application process and participated in the Digital Advocacy Symposium to become powerful advocates for change. In addition to gaining advocacy and communications skills, these young leaders learned about how tobacco use is a social justice issue because of tobacco-related health disparities due to the tobacco industry’s longtime targeting of minority populations.