I am a junior at Lawton High School and am very active both in my school and community. I joined YAHL my sophomore year as a part of Student Council and then decided to join the Leadership Team. YAHL is a new organization promoting healthy habits in Oklahoma.
YAHL supports Counteract Tobacco which aims to end preemption laws and shift the blame away from individuals and onto Big Tobacco. At least 90% of tobacco users start under the age of 18. Since Oklahoma is one of the five states with preemption in place for youth access, licensure, and smoke-free indoor air, local government has little to no say in the regulation and sale of tobacco.
Counteract Tobacco has events all throughout the community. Everyone knows someone who has been negatively affected by tobacco use. When states get control over one form, such as cigarettes, people create another, like vapes. It is estimated that roughly 1 in 4 high-school students has used a vape or e-cigarette, however from my observation those numbers should be closer to 3 in 4. We aim to educate the community on tobacco use and implement policies that can make Oklahoma a healthier state.
By Ady Anderson, YAHL Leadership Team Member from Lawton High School