May 2, 2021 6:00pm

Advocating for No Minor Sale in Cibola County

Hello, my name is Tearza Valencia and I’m a junior at Grants High School. I’m in my first year of Evolvement, an organization that empowers young people to advocate for healthier lifestyles. I joined this movement because I know my generation is being targeted by the tobacco industry. I want my peers to make better choices to create a healthier, tobacco-free New Mexico. Although I recently joined Evolvement at the beginning of this year, I already have many experiences to share! For example, I gave a virtual No Minor Sale Partner Presentation to the Cibola County Health Council in mid-March of 2021 during their quarterly zoom meeting. 

The No Minor Sale campaign focuses on eliminating minor use of tobacco, and more specifically, flavored tobacco products. Teens in my community are constantly using flavored products such as Puff Bars and Juul Pods but are unaware of how addictive they can be. My peers are even less educated about how nicotine use can turn into long-term tobacco use. Therefore, increasing awareness of this issue is relevant in my community.

Another Evolver from Grants High School, Jorge Mendez, and I were invited to present the No Minor Sale campaign to about ten Cibola County Health Council members that attended the meeting. Fun fact, this was the first No Minor Sale campaign opportunity in our hometown of Grants. We both dressed semi-formal to accommodate the meeting’s formality. Our presentation lasted about twenty minutes. We explained the campaign and its objectives to raise awareness, demonstrate concern, and collect opinions on flavored tobacco products. We even collected eight valid opinion surveys from the health council about flavored tobacco use! It’s important to collect data about public opinion on this issue because it shows that the public cares. I prepared for the meeting on Monday with the campaign manager Michael Kelly. We went over every slide in the PowerPoint and I continued practicing until Thursday. After the presentation, I felt grateful to have had the opportunity to discuss and participate in an important meeting. Collecting support cards and adding the Grants Public Library as a partner to the campaign was a great conclusion to the presentation.

From this experience, I gained more confidence in myself as a speaker and more trust in my council as a member of their community. This benefits the campaign because I feel more comfortable raising awareness in my county. I know we’ll have the council’s support in the NMS campaign’s endeavors. I hope youth will be regularly included in the options considered and the decisions made by our community’s health council. For my community, this might mean better protection from everything harmful to us and our environment.

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