Youth group taking stand against tobacco

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Washington Parish Youth Council. We are a youth group that works to help educate people about the harmful effects of using tobacco and to limit the amount of tobacco advertisement that businesses use.

Louisiana teen smoking rates of 21.8 percent are higher than the national average of 18 percent, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. Several small stores such as gas stations advertise tobacco products in ways that target youth. Tobacco advertisements affect youth smoking greatly. They also reinforce the urge for people to continue smoking and make it much harder on smokers that are trying to quit. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, “youth who shop at convenience stores filled with tobacco advertisements are twice as likely to start smoking.”

Tobacco advertising can cause several different issues. One of these issues is that youth see the ads and can be tempted to try tobacco, especially when the ad promotes tobacco in a positive manner with images and themes that are attractive to youth. So, if we are able to reduce the amount of tobacco advertisements, the amount of youth tobacco users would likely also decrease.

Our Youth Council will ask the Bogalusa City Council to consider setting stricter policies about tobacco sales and advertising. We will be asking them to limit the amount of tobacco advertising at cash registers and to prohibit tobacco sales within 300 feet from schools, churches, playgrounds and public libraries. The Washington Parish Youth Council will make a presentation to the Bogalusa City Council in June 2 at 5:30 p.m. We hope you will come out and support us as we work to help stop teen tobacco use and tobacco advertisements that appeal to youth.

– Justin Gunnell

Member of Washington Parish

Youth Council

Ninth grade

Pine Junior Senior High School