Louisiana Youth Urge Legislators to Support Stronger Tobacco Control Policies
Approximately 200 student participants from across Louisiana gathered at the State Capitol to present legislators with tobacco-related policy recommendations. Todays youth-led event was the culmination of the states second Louisiana Youth Prevention Services Youth Summit on Tobacco, an intensive, three-day camp that addresses youth tobacco prevention and control issues. Through nationally recognized speakers and presenters, panel discussions with legislators, and advocacy and prevention training, student delegates worked to create the tobacco-related policy recommendations.
The facilitated trainings, that took place in March of this year, allowed student participants to express their own ideas about the tobacco industry, its marketing tactics towards youth, and tobacco marketing policy. Upon completing the Youth Summit event today, the students were afforded the opportunity to meet with legislators, each from his/her own respective district to talk about the tobacco industry and the tobacco-related policy recommendations that they had crafted during the trainings.
Approximately 25% of Louisiana high school-aged youth are smokers and in Louisiana alone, it is estimated that the tobacco industry spends more than $291.5 million annually on tobacco marketing and advertising that targets Louisiana youth.
The Youth Summit agenda included topics in Tobacco Tax, Youth Accessibility to Tobacco and Tobacco Marketing. In response to these intensive trainings, students voted on the most important issues they thought warranted policy change. The following three policy recommendations were announced during a press conference on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol that concluded the 2009 Youth Summit on Tobacco:
1.Raise tobacco tax by $1.00 and allocate 20 cents for tobacco prevention programs.
2.Dedicate funding for programming that will bring tobacco prevention and cessation information to rural areas.
3.Develop legislation to prohibit the manufacturing & sales of candy items that resemble tobacco products.
Louisianas Youth Summit on Tobacco is an important youth-led effort to raise awareness about the tobacco industrys deceptive marketing tactics that target children and the need for policy changes that can help prevent Louisiana youth from ever starting to use tobacco products, said Janice Williams, executive director of Louisiana Youth Prevention Services. Working together, Louisiana youth are sending a clear message to our lawmakers—they want and deserve to be protected from the tobacco industry with stronger policies that are proven to work.
Students who participated in the Youth Summit were encouraged to register to be a member of Defy, a statewide youth empowerment movement dedicated to reducing the influence of the tobacco industry. As a member, students will receive email updates regarding tobacco legislation and what they can do to help support efforts surrounding policy and advocacy opportunities. Student participants will also be notified of statewide or regional trainings that will facilitate and support their advocacy skills.
Louisiana youth interested in applying for the Defy youth empowerment and tobacco prevention campaign can visit www.defythelies.com.
For more information on the Louisiana Youth Summit on Tobacco, contact Janice Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org (318) 561-2624 or cell (318) 308-0903