On March 14, Maui County youth from Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI) and from the Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) gathered in front of Kalama Park to officially launch the sign waving events that took place statewide for Take Down Tobacco National Action Day! High schoolers and middle schoolers gathered with their pink shirts and displayed signs that read, “Don’t stop quitting” and “Vaping tastes like candy, works like poison.” Many youth start vaping because of the various flavors available in the market and Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand up, speak out and seize control against Big Tobacco. One of the signs reflected this and it stated, “The Tobacco Industry Has a Kids Menu.”
Mary Leyva, the Tobacco Coalition Coordinator for Maui County, hosted the event with Kristin Wells, a Youth Program Specialist from MEO. It was a great event to kick off the start of spring break and to create further awareness about the vaping problem taking place in Maui County and statewide. It also gave voice to youth about what they personally see at their schools and in their communities. A youth from the Maui Nui Youth Council (MNYC), Ethan T. Baysa (13) stated, “I attended the sign waving because I am against drugs and tobacco! and I am more than happy to spread awareness about tobacco and vaping for it is a problem in many communities.”
Another middle schooler from Iao Intermediate School, Kendra M. Kiyonaga (13) shared, “I want to let people know how dangerous tobacco is and it can kill whether it is vaping or cigarettes.” The hope is that the sign waving event will bring up the conversations at home with families about the seriousness of vaping and or tobacco products and the harmful effects it can have towards youth. Those that drove past South Kihei Road all were made aware of the voices of the youth who are against tobacco products; with the number of youth vaping it is important that further awareness is created. For more information or if interested to support the Coalition for Tobacco Free Hawai‘i – Maui, Molokai and Lani please contact Mary Leyva at email@example.com.