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Hawai‘i Youth take their fight to Washington DC

On May 18, over 125 youth and advocates from 15 states, including representatives from the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i Youth Council, protested tobacco giant Altria’s annual shareholders meeting. This year marks the eighth consecutive year that Mobilize Against Tobacco Lies (MATL), a collaborative of youth programs and national partners, has gathered to expose and fight back against the tobacco giant.

Youth Council members Josh Ching and Nikkya Taliaferro, who attend colleges on the East Coast, were among the youth demonstrating outside of Altria’s Washington, DC, office. Meanwhile, at the virtual shareholders’ meeting, Roosevelt High School student Samantha Lay questioned CEO Billy Gifford about Altria’s claims that a majority of adults support the legal sale of tobacco products. This contradicts local polling data that shows the majority of Hawai‘i voters support ending the sale of all tobacco products. The CEO dodged the question by saying they stand by their “independent” poll. 

Josh also emceed and was one of the keynote speakers at a press event on the steps of the historic Metropolitan African American Methodist Episcopal Church urging the FDA to take swift action on menthol cigarettes. 

“It’s exciting to see Hawai‘i youth helping to lead these national efforts and collaborating with groups from across the country,” said Scott Stensrud, HIPHI Statewide Youth Coordinator. “Our youth continue to show that they can have an impact not just locally but at the national level as well.”

Scott Stensrud, MA

Scott Stensrud, MA

Statewide Youth Coordinator
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