Middle and High School students from the Forsyth County TRU Youth Advisory Council joined a group of more than 200 youth from across North Carolina for the TRU Youth Advocacy Day at the Alice Aycock Poe Center in Raleigh on Saturday, January 21.
As part of the event, students learned how to be advocates in their communities, giving voice to the need for healthy policies and prevention programs. In addition, youth organized a cigarette butt pick-up on the grounds of the Poe Center, and assembled 1000 Quit Kits for tobacco-addicted soldiers based in NC. Guilford County legislators Rep. Alma Adams and Rep. Pricey Harrison presided over the TRU Stars Award Ceremony. Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan addressed the young people about the importance of youth engagement, and how to be involved in local policy change.
Reynolds High School junior, Nikhiya Young, received a TRU Star Award during this event for her hard work and dedication to the tobacco prevention movement.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year. Every day, more than 4,000 kids try their first cigarettes; another 1,000 kids become addicted smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.
The TRU initiative has successfully reduced teen smoking in North Carolina to historic lows. Throughout the year, students involved in the TRU Movement take the lead in their communities to protect kids from tobacco by working with elected officials to develop policies that reduce youth tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke and educating their peers about tobacco companies’ deceptive marketing practices. Learn more at www.realityunfiltered.com
Since 2003, funding for the award-winning program and media campaign has been provided by NC’s portion of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, as approved by the General Assembly. The program’s future is uncertain after this funding year. Without funding, progress in reducing teen tobacco use in North Carolina will likely stall and tobacco use rates will eventually begin to climb to previous levels. Only consistent, ongoing funding and programming will make NC kids and teens safer from the influences that encourage them to use tobacco.