Springfield youth participated in event with State Representatives & Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and meet with legislators to discus the impact of new tobacco products in their community at the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston for the 2010 Kick Butts Day Event on March 24th, 2010.
Youth participants in the REACH Program, a youth component of the Pioneer Valley AHEC at the Springfield Department of Health & Human Services participated in the 2010 Kick Butts Day Event held at the Massachusetts State House on March 24th.
The REACH program participants are part of The 84 Movement which helps mobilize youth to take action to protect their communities from the influence of the tobacco industry. In addition to curbing youth tobacco use, this year’s Kick Butts Day activities were focused on bringing attention to the increasing number of other tobacco products that are targeting youth. Products such as candy flavored dissolvable tobacco are being sold in packages that are designed to look like breath mints or packs of chewing gum and are becoming increasingly used amongst youth.
“With the tobacco industry continuing to find new ways to target us, it’s more important than ever to find ways to fight back,” stated Jessica Torres, a Springfield REACH youth. “Parents and adults need to be aware of these new products and work with youth to raise awareness about their danger to the community.”
The REACH program joined over 200 youth from the around the state in Boston to begin their day with a training program. Following the training, the youth marched to the State House to attend an event with the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, John Auerbach, State Representatives Garballey, Hecht, and Gregoire. During the event Commissioner Auerbach presented information from the latest Youth Trends Report that showed while the use of cigarettes was down among high school youth the use of other tobacco products was on the rise.
After the event The REACH youth shared with Legislators and other attendees what their own personal experiences have been with other tobacco products by walking them through a poster designed by the group to highlight the impact of tobacco in the community.
Kick Butts Day is a national tobacco control observance, organized by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, to empower youth and celebrate the work that they do to take action against tobacco use and to raise awareness about the persistent problem of Big Tobacco targeting youth.
The 84 movement is managed by Health Resources in Action and funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.
For more information on the work being done to combat Big Tobacco around the State visit www.makesmokinghistory.org and www.The84.org.
The Recruitment and Educational Assistance for Careers in Health (REACH) is an after school program serving Springfield public high school students who are interested in pursuing careers in healthcare.
The REACH after school program is component of the Pioneer Valley Area Health Education Center (PVAHEC). The PVAHEC is housed at the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services; our Executive Director is Helen Caulton-Harris.