Hawaii’s youth are taking down tobacco, choosing to face the tobacco industry’s targeting of Hawaii’s communities head-on. On Sunday, March 7, the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi Youth Council (a program of the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute), hosted a statewide “March Against Menthol” sign-waving to raise awareness on menthol and gather support for legislation.
“The tobacco industry has a history of marketing menthol cigarettes to youth and vulnerable groups,” says Nikkya Taliaferro, one of the youth organizers of the event. “In Hawaiʻi, 78% of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander smokers use menthol cigarettes. Lawmakers shouldn’t miss this opportunity to completely tackle this tobacco epidemic, addressing social justice and improving health simultaneously.”
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Hawaiʻi, and the state’s rates of middle and high school e-cigarette use are among the highest in the nation. This youth-led event aimed to bring awareness and action to these inequities!
This event kicked off a month of activities that include sign-waving, and a social media scavenger hunt for youth in addition to submitting testimony in support of their policy priority, SB 1147, to regulate e-cigarettes the same as combustible cigarettes and end the sale of flavored tobacco products. Stay tuned to the Youth Council’s Instagram account, @hiphiyc, for more.