Nine organizations signed on as partners during the first year of the campaign
CounterAct Tobacco, a youth-driven program working toward a tobacco-free future, is increasing its reach across Oklahoma.
Nine organizations from five counties across the state signed on as partners in the first year of the program. High school students who are members of Youth Action for Health Leadership (YAHL), a program funded by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), presented to community organizations across the state to explain CounterAct Tobacco, encouraging leaders to sign on as partners. Becoming a partner indicates the organization’s support for CounterAct Tobacco’s goals to license e-cigarette, vape, and retailers of emerging nicotine-only products. The group educates on the benefits of changes to state law which would allow cities and towns to pass their own tobacco control ordinances.
The program’s first nine organizational partners are the Adair County Community Coalition, Cherokee County Healthy Living Collaborative, Cherokee Nation Public Health, Family Health Center of Southern Oklahoma, Johnston County Chamber of Commerce, Mercy Hospital Tishomingo, Murray State College, TSET Healthy Living Program Serving Garvin County and the Wilma P. Mankiller Clinic.
Erin Bolin, TSET Healthy Living Program coordinator in Garvin County, is impressed by the commitment shown by local teens to empower their peers and local communities over the tobacco industry.
“It’s exciting to see the passion in our youth who are working towards the same goals and outcomes as people more than twice their age,” Bolin said. “These students see firsthand how tobacco is impacting their peers, and they are advocating to make a difference. It is an honor to collaborate with these young adults who are taking action to create change and create awareness.”
Children and teenagers in Oklahoma face increasing health threats as rates of vaping use rise. More than 1 in 4 Oklahoma youth report using some form of tobacco product. Use of nicotine and tobacco products at a young age can have a lasting effect because nearly 90 percent of adults who smoke daily began when they were under 18 years old.
“The tobacco industry spends millions of dollars each year trying to get Oklahoma youth addicted to their deadly products, so it’s going to take all of us together to pass comprehensive tobacco retail licensing,” said Counter Act Tobacco’s Alex Escamilla-Rosenberg, who is thrilled about partners showing support for the campaign.