The Seventh Annual Bismarck Tobacco Prevention Youth Summit will be held Wednesday, October 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck.
Summit attendees will learn about the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke, the need for smoke-free environments, the need for higher priced tobacco products (adding more tobacco tax) and implementation of tobacco-free school policies. Activities will focus on teaching the teens how to educate their peers about tobacco, how to influence decision makers and, ultimately, how to reduce tobacco use.
Youth Summit keynote speaker Amanda Mortensen will lead the activities for the day. Mortensen is the Project Coordinator for No Limits, Nebraska’s first youth-led tobacco prevention movement. She has been involved in youth empowerment through various organizations for the past 12 years.
“It has been shown that when tobacco prices are higher youth are less likely to smoke because they can’t afford it,” said Mortensen. “Increasing the tobacco tax can be a very effective way to prevent young people from getting addicted to tobacco and suffering a lifetime of harmful health effects because of it. It’s also a great way to save the lives of adult smokers and save money that is spent on health-care costs.”
If North Dakota raised the tax rate by $2 per pack, approximately 7,900 kids could be kept from becoming addicted adult smokers, 5,300 current adult smokers may quit and 3,900 people could be saved from dying from tobacco-related illnesses.
The opening speaker, Jazmine Huschka, is a senior from Bismarck High School and has been involved with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) for five years along with being part of the Northern Light Advisory Board. She has been active in the Bismarck community, educating about the need for tobacco prevention.
“Young people can have a huge impact on society as a whole when it comes to tobacco prevention,” said Huschka. “This summit will empower them to be the voice of their generation – speaking to their peers and to other North Dakota residents. They can help reduce the use of tobacco, save lives and save money. These teens will be inspired to make changes happen – to help their friends, family and neighbors live healthier lives.”
All Bismarck public high schools and middle schools, along with St. Mary’s High School and St. Mary’s 7th and 8th grade students will send student representatives and a faculty tobacco prevention coordinator to the Youth Summit.
In the weeks and months following the summit, attending students will work with their school’s tobacco prevention coordinator to create activities for the Great American Smokeout (Nov. 15, 2012), Great American Spit Out (Feb. 21, 2013), and Kick Butts Day (Mar. 20, 2013).
The Bismarck Tobacco Prevention Youth Summit is organized by Bismarck Burleigh Public Health to educate students about youth tobacco prevention activities, youth empowerment and changing social norms.