More than 250 young people taking part in anti-tobacco coalitions will take their message to state legislators on March 18 for their first legislative day at the State Capitol.
The students hope to continue building on notable tobacco cessation successes:
- the recent announcement of CVS Caremark to no longer stock tobacco products;
- the drop in youth prevalence rates in Arizona from 20 percent to 14 percent in the last four years;
- the 17 percent statewide adult prevalence rate, which is well below the national average of 20 percent
“We’re seeing fewer smokers, but we are still picking up a lot of cigarette butts in our parks,” said Giulia Becker, a student at Anza Trail Middle School, one of the schools participating in Pima County Students Taking a New Direction. “We still have work to do.”
Legislative Day is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a formal presentation beginning at noon on the Senate Lawn. Among efforts to improve the health and wellness of local communities, youth coalitions continue to push for smoke-free ordinances at local parks and the expansion of smoke-free boundaries.
Many students will meet directly with their elected officials to discuss local tobacco issues. The Anza Trail Middle School team is meeting with Sen. Andrea Dalessandro.
Students are partnering with the Attorney General’s Counter Strike Program; Arizonans Concerned About Smoking; and the Arizona chapters of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
“Tobacco use is attributed to the four leading causes of death in Arizona,” said Jennifer Chancay of the Pima County Health Department. “It’s not just lung cancer. It causes new – and worsens existing –health problems. Help is available to quit, but prevention is key.”