Teen Activist

Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out?

May 1, 2024

My name is Zane Coker. I am a freshman and go to Adair High School. I have been in YAHL for less than a year. YAHL is a leadership program that shows children that they have the power to make change in their community- to improve current things, to make them better and to make them safer. I am writing about why we work on comprehensive tobacco retail licensing to help keep our youth safe. 

Comprehensive tobacco retail licensing, also known as the TRL law, is a comprehensive enforcement tool. It is important to have this law in place to protect our youth. It helps to ensure that retailers comply with existing laws that prohibit tobacco sales to underage people, to make sure that these products do not fall into the hands of a developing child and cause permanent damage. It would also give law enforcement the power to take away the license if retailers do not meet the requirements outlined in the license. Comprehensive tobacco retail licensing does not currently exist in Oklahoma.

The CounterAct Tobacco Campaign works on educating people about the effects that tobacco has on our youth and how these policies contribute to it. We are working to help hold tobacco sellers accountable for selling to minors. Tobacco retail licensing will help to significantly decrease the chances of our youth getting tobacco products and damaging their minds and body permanently.  I became involved with CounterAct Tobacco through my first task with YAHL. We went to our Christmas in the Country fair and set up a stand where we collected surveys from the people in our community. We educate people on the effects that tobacco has on our youth and how we are counteracting it. 

I care about this campaign because I care about the people around me. There are so many children who do not know the effects that tobacco products have on the human body and mind. They can also be the people who want to keep up with the trends just to fit in and be socially accepted in today's society. YAHL has taught me the true effects of what tobacco products have on our youth, and how it damages our mental health and body along the way. It has also shown me the amount of tobacco policies that do not exist, which is why so many children have tobacco products. By educating our students on the effects that tobacco products have, it will encourage our students to speak up for what is right, show them they have a voice and do not have to fit into society's standards of what is “cool”. Whether you are a mother, father, sister, brother or a close friend, you care about the people you know and love. If more people support this policy change we will be taking a big step in protecting our loved ones from the damage that these products cause. We will also be showing people that they do not have to fit in with society's standards of what is “cool” but they can be their best, healthy self.

-By: Zane Coker, Adair High School

Supported by YAHL, a program of TSET.
Funded in whole or in part by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET)

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