The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids celebrated the 2022 Youth Advocates of the Year Awards and their 25th anniversary on Thursday. The evening was spent reflecting on 25 years of progress, looking ahead to next steps, and honoring this year’s collection of young leaders from across the United States making progress in the fight for the first tobacco-free generation. Among those leaders on stage was Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i’s Youth Council member Joshua Ching from Waipahu, Hawaii.
Joshua’s advocacy began during his freshman year at Kamehameha Schools- Kapalama after realizing how the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing practices disproportionately impacted Native Hawaiians. After joining the Youth Council, he quickly focused his advocacy work on policy solutions including banning flavored tobacco products, funding cessation programs, and stopping online tobacco sales.
As he gained experience working with elected officials and other policymakers, Joshua quickly discovered his strength in forging strong relationships and building grassroots support. He conducted youth training workshops and peer-to-peer awareness events and encouraged students to join the fight against Big Tobacco.
“From learning the intricacies of the legislative process firsthand to organizing with passionate and amazing individuals from across the islands, being an advocate has had a monumental impact on my life, and my aspirations for the future,” said Joshua Ching. “Winning this award is a testament to the fact that our council of teenagers on an island in the middle of the Pacific not only has the capacity to create change but is actively being recognized. Our coalition has come a long way, and I’m proud to have served in it.”
Joshua continues to use his platform to get more young people involved in the fight for the first tobacco-free generation and says he is “committed to the fight against Big Tobacco and to the fight for justice – because that’s what it means to be Hawaiian.” He will be continuing his advocacy work at Yale University this fall.
Do you know a student in 8th grade through college that might be interested in joining the Youth Council? They can learn more at www.hiphi.org/youth/