FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 23, 2021

COALITION FOR A TOBACCO-FREE HAWAIʻI YOUTH COUNCIL HONORED AS NATIONAL GROUP YOUTH ADVOCATES OF THE YEAR

Awards Event to Take Place Wednesday, September 29, 2021

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) –  Members of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi Youth Council have received national recognition for their leadership in the fight against tobacco. Named Group Youth Advocates of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the group will be honored on September 29, 2021, at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ annual Youth Advocates of the Year Awards celebration event.

Each year, the Youth Council hosts Taking Down Tobacco Day, where youth from various islands make their voices heard as one as they meet with lawmakers at the State Capitol to advocate for policies to stop the tobacco industry from targeting young people. With the pandemic impacting in-person plans this year, the Youth Council organized rallies, murals and other demonstrations across Hawaiʻi to increase awareness, improve education and build grassroots support. The group also hosts presentations throughout the year to educate peers and community members across Hawaiʻi.

In addition to their day of action, Youth Council members work year-round with local leaders on policies to protect kids and vulnerable communities from the harmful effects of tobacco. In Hawaiʻi, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 5.3% of Hawaii’s high school students smoke cigarettes and 30.6% use e-cigarettes. To combat the toll of tobacco in Hawaiʻi, the Youth Council advocates to end the sale of flavored tobacco products and preserve dedicated funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.

“We are thrilled to honor the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi Youth Council as our Group Youth Advocates of the Year,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “The Coalition is a model organization rallying others in the fight for healthier, more equitable communities. They are proud that a group of young people can come together and stand up to the tobacco industry, while inspiring their peers to be tobacco-free and encouraging elected officials to take action.”

Every year, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids honors a National Youth Advocate of the Year, four Individual Youth Advocates of the Year and Group Youth Advocates of the Year. The winners receive scholarships to continue their tobacco prevention efforts and serve as youth ambassadors for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Additional information about the youth award winners can be found at tfk.org/awards and more resources and information about tobacco can be found at tobaccofreekids.org. More information about the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii’s Youth Council and applications to join can be found at hiphi.org/youth.

FEATURED PARTICIPANTS: Members of the Youth Council’s leadership team will be available for interviews, including, but not limited to:

  • Nikkya Taliaferro, Moanalua High School graduate and Howard University student
  • Joshua Ching and Logan Lau, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama students
  • Holly Taguma, Kauaʻi High School

WHAT: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ annual Youth Advocates of the Year Awards celebration, to be held virtually. Youth Council leaders who spearheaded efforts to end the sale of flavored tobacco products and preserve dedicated funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs will accept the award.

WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, September 29, 2021; 12 p.m. HST. Event to be live-streamed at tfk.org/awards. Youth leaders will be available for media interviews upon request.

CONTACT: Kirsty Gallaher, Communications Director, Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute, kirsty@hiphi.org to schedule interviews.

ABOUT: Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i is a national trailblazer in reducing tobacco use through education, policy, and advocacy. Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI) works to advance the health and wellness of the people and islands of Hawai‘i. Learn more at hiphi.org.

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