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Rep Belatti With Youth Council Member Zoe S.

Youth Council Summer 2024 Update

Summer is a time for reflection and planning, and the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i Youth Council (YC) is off to a strong start. Despite a disappointing legislative session in 2024, the YC is looking forward to working on its policy priorities for 2025.

On June 2, YC members were invited to attend a 2024 Legislative Recap and 2025 Policy Priority Selection meeting facilitated by their peers. Representative Della Au Bellati, House Health Chair, was a special guest, encouraging the youth to continue their fight to end the sale of flavored tobacco in Hawaiʻi and providing guidance on what they can do this summer to improve their chances in 2025. Rep. Bellati also encouraged the students to examine the stances of those running for office this year, find candidates that best match their values, and actively work to help them get elected.

Students representing Kauaʻi, Maui, Oʻahu, and Hawai‘i islands were in attendance and discussed past successes and future plans. They broke into small groups to review policy options for the 2025 legislative session. They shared their thoughts with the larger group before coming to a consensus to continue their efforts to end the sale of flavored tobacco in Hawai‘i and to restore the counties’ authority to regulate tobacco sales. The youth also want to work to raise taxes on all tobacco products and start exploring policy options regarding how tobacco is marketed to youth and what steps can be taken at the state and local levels.

Students also met in student-led work groups. The social media group finalized their ideas for their “Meme Monday” campaign in the summer, focusing on raising awareness and generating more interest amongst their peers in joining the Youth Council. The large display group continued developing their ideas for a CANstruction project they hope to have ready for the fall.

Due to the youth’s high engagement level, almost all students stayed until the end despite the meeting running much longer than expected. In short, the future looks bright for the 2024-2025 Youth Council as they continue their efforts to create the first nicotine-free generation in Hawaiʻi.

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If you know a youth from 8th grade through university level who is interested in peer-to-peer education and advocacy around youth tobacco use, have them visit hiphi.org/youth. Our Kickoff event is typically in August, followed by our Awareness-Building Workshop and Policy and Testimony Writing Workshop later in the year. Applications are accepted year-round; however, the earlier they get involved, the more opportunities they have!

Scott Stensrud, MA

Scott Stensrud, MA

Statewide Youth Coordinator
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