Working with No Minor Sale: A Unique Opportunity
Hello! My name is Shazmeen Kamran, I am currently a sophomore at Arrowhead Park Early College High School in Las Cruces, NM. I have been an active member in Evolvement for almost two years now! Evolvement is an advocacy group that works to end nicotine and tobacco addiction amongst New Mexico youth. As of right now, I am working to get my Associates Degree in Science, and plan on majoring in biology. My long-term goal is to go into cosmetic dermatology!
To achieve my goal, I am using my time in Evolvement to help me build on my public speaking skills, work comfortably with others, and interact with my community. I recently had the opportunity to work as a part of a team presentation to the Center of Health Innovation via Zoom to speak about No Minor Sale. No Minor Sale is a branch of Evolvement that focuses on marketing tactics of tobacco production that are used to target youth. The organization works on ending illegal sales to minors. The second branch of Evolvement is 24/7, which works to keep schools in a tobacco-free environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The unique part of this presentation was that we got to speak about Evolvement, 24/7, and No Minor Sale (the main focus).
This opportunity was a huge success for me and my fellow Evolvers. We spoke to the Innovation to inform them of our work in the two campaigns. At first it seemed intimidating knowing that we would be speaking to adults, but they were so friendly and genuinely interested in what we had to say. We shared statistics about nicotine addiction amongst youth and discussed the marketing tactics used by tobacco product companies. There came a point in the presentation where we were sharing our personal views on the current “landscape” of nicotine addiction in youth, and a story I shared caught their attention:
I went on a school trip to Albuquerque in early March, and we all went to Coronado Mall. While I was wandering through the mall with friends I was observing the kiosks placed in the center of the halls. We came across a candy kiosk, which was bright and colorful, with varying sweets from chocolates, and toffees, to pixie stix, Laffy Taffy, and Skittles and so much more. The entire display stood out and the counters were placed low for children to be able to see. But placed right next to it was a vape kiosk. Similarly, the counters were low, and there were transparent displays with brightly packaged e-cigarettes. There were kid-friendly flavors like cherry, lemon, etc. Colors like pink, blue, red, yellow, you name it. It was disturbing to see children wandering two feet away from the candy kiosk to look at these “attractive” vapes. It was a scary experience, but also reminded me of why No Minor Sale’s work is so important.
The members in the Zoom were just as concerned and continued to ask us questions. I think hearing the youth’s perspective had such a huge impact on the adults. I had the opportunity to share with them what I was seeing, how my generation was being affected, and why it’s such an important topic. In the end they were all pleased with our presentation and willing to work with us in the future.
This presentation was so wholesome. I not only got to share my opinion about nicotine addiction amongst youth, but I had the opportunity to interact with my fellow Evolvers and build my confidence in speaking with others. I learned that reaching out to people is the only way to make a difference. By having this opportunity, I realized that people are willing to listen and willing to take a step forward and reach out to help. This was also my first time working with No Minor Sale, and I feel so much more educated about underage tobacco sales to minors, and am grateful that I got to share the information with others.