The Bismarck Tobacco Prevention Youth Summit will be held Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. in the Rembrandt Room at the Radisson Hotel.
Summit attendees will learn techniques on how to be successful tobacco prevention advocates from well-known experts in tobacco prevention. To celebrate its 10th year, staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, based in Washington, D.C., will present at this year’s summit.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ vision is to have “a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.” Tobacco-Free Kids advocates for national, state and local policies to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.
Sommer Wilmeth – a senior at Century High School – is the opening speaker for the summit. Wilmeth comes with a great deal of experience through her involvement in Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) for 4 years. Recently, Sommer had the opportunity to represent North Dakota as a National Youth Ambassador for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, DC.
“As a student, I provide a different perspective on issues than adults," said Wilmeth. “We are the future and when there is a problem or issue that directly targets us, like tobacco use, we need to stand up and take charge.”
Even though there has been a significant decrease in youth smoking rates, the number of adolescents using cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in North Dakota is still higher than the national average. According to the 2015 North Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 11.7 percent of high school students smoke and 10.6 percent use smokeless tobacco. Both rates exceed the national average of 10.8 percent for high school smoking and 7.3 percent who use smokeless tobacco.
Tobacco use among ND youth does not stop with combustible cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. The survey also shows a rise of e-cigarette use among our ND high school students at an alarming rate of 22.3 percent. As tobacco companies continue to introduce new products to the market aimed at our youth, our fight is not over.
Bismarck public high schools and middle schools, along with St. Mary’s High School and Light of Christ’s 7th and 8th grade Academy will be sending student representatives and a faculty tobacco prevention coordinator to the summit. There will also be youth from other areas of ND in attendance at the summit as well.
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 (November 17, 2016), Great American Spit Out (February 23, 2017), and Kick Butts Day (March 15, 2017).
The Bismarck Tobacco Prevention Youth Summit is organized by Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health in partnership with Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, to educate the students in ND about youth tobacco prevention activities, youth empowerment, and changing social norms.
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