WASHINGTON, May 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Becky Bade, 16, of New Bloomfield, Mo., 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. Becky will be honored at a gala in the nation's capital on Thursday (May 15) along with a national winner, three other U.S. regional winners and a group winner.
Becky is a sophomore at New Bloomfield High School. She is a member of the Tobacco-Free Missouri Youth Advisory Board and has been involved in fighting tobacco since middle school. She has spoken at City Council meetings in support of smoke-free legislation in the city of Holts Summit.
In 2012, she worked in support of a ballot measure that would have raised Missouri's very low tax rate on cigarettes and other tobacco products. After the measure's defeat, she continued fighting the tobacco industry by starting the "Stand Up to Tobacco" campaign, which invited people across the state to share personal stories about how tobacco had affected them. The Youth Advisory Board collected over 2,400 cards from over 80 communities and displayed them during Tobacco-Free Missouri's Capitol Day.
Becky has also worked to promote awareness of tobacco in schools, organized tobacco-free fairs, led community service initiatives and planned Kick Butts Day events.
More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders will attend the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' 18th 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 Becky as our Central Region Youth Advocate of the Year," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Young leaders like her are crucial in the fight to make tobacco history and end this epidemic for good. With their help, we can create the first tobacco-free generation."
Without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease, according to the latest Surgeon General's report on tobacco and health. That includes 128,000 children in Missouri alone.
In Missouri, tobacco use claims 9,600 lives and costs $3 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.1 percent of the state's high school students smoke. Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses each year.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids