Why I Care About Tobacco Education
My name is Cali Walker and I am a senior at Portales High School. This is my fourth year with Evolvement and my third on the leadership team. Evolvement works with a campaign called No Minor Sale to achieve more specific goals within the program.
No Minor Sale’s first goal is to educate New Mexicans about the dangers of flavored tobacco products. With flavors like strawberry, apple, chocolate, bubble gum, and vanilla among others. tobacco sellers make their product appear less harmful, and more appealing to teens. According to the CDC, flavored tobacco, with its pleasant taste, is more addictive than regular tobacco products. On the CDC website, I also found a study that reported most youth who use tobacco products started with a flavored product, and these flavors are a major reason they continue to use tobacco products.
When I started working with Evolvement a few years ago, I approached my peers about their stance on flavored tobacco products. An overwhelming amount of them told me that e-cigarettes were not that bad for you and don’t actually contain nicotine. At the time, I wasn’t very educated on the effects of e-cigarettes and felt like these statements were just too good to be true. Later that day, I researched information about e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products the found the following information: “A recent CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine. Some e-cigarette labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some e-cigarettes marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine”.
I knew that nicotine was addictive and could cause harmful effects to the body. My classmates thought of these flavored products as something fun and popular to do. They didn’t know or simply didn’t care about the harmful and long-term effects of these products. This made me realize how important tobacco education is.
I want to help spread awareness about the danger of flavored tobacco use and keep these harmful products out of the hands of uninformed minors. With Evolvement, I have been able to do just that. I’ve been with the No Minor Sale campaign for almost four years and this program has given me the opportunity to learn and to lead. I have traveled to the state capital to talk to lawmakers, have led student recruitment events, talking with people in my community about tobacco, and learned a lot about what it means to advocate.