Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Honors Joanna Hejl, of Lincoln, NE As Youth Advocate of the Year
Leadership in Fight Against Tobacco Recognized Nationally
WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Joanna Hejl, 15, of Lincoln, Nebraska, has been named the Central Region Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for her leadership in the fight against tobacco. Joanna will be honored at a gala in the nation’s capital on Thursday (May 2) along with a national winner, three other regional winners, a group winner and a military winner.
Joanna is a freshman at Lincoln High School, where she started a club to inform her peers about the tobacco industry’s deceptions. She helps lead regional trainings across the state on community activism and tobacco-free parks.
Joanna is also a board member of the statewide movement, No Limits Nebraska. In this role, she helped lead the lobby day training for their large Kick Butts Day event, during which kids from across the state met with legislators to talk about the importance of fighting tobacco use. She is also involved in planning the No Limits Summer Summit, a training program for teen activists.
Next year, Joanna plans to promote legislation to increase the state tobacco tax and to prevent e-cigarette sales to minors. She is also fighting to ensure that all cigars are regulated by the FDA.
More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders will attend the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ 17th annual gala in Washington, D.C., to recognize these young leaders. The winners will receive educational scholarships and grants to continue their prevention efforts. They also serve as ambassadors for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“We are thrilled to honor Joanna as one of our Youth Advocates of the Year,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Young leaders like Joanna bring energy, passion and creativity to our movement and inspire all of us to win the fight against the number one cause of preventable death.”
In Nebraska, 15 percent of high school students smoke. Every year, 2,000 kids become daily smokers, and tobacco use kills 2,200 Nebraskans and costs the state $537 million in health care bills. Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation $96 billion in health care expenditures annually.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids