--Leadership in Fight Against Tobacco Recognized Nationally--
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hattie Simon, 16, of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, has been named the Eastern Region Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for her leadership in the fight against tobacco. Hattie is being honored at a gala in the nation's capital on Thursday (May 17) along with a national winner, three other regional winners and a group winner.
Hattie created an action plan to make the historic beaches in her hometown of Old Orchard Beach tobacco-free. She received a grant and organized a tobacco-free beach group. The group surveyed thousands of residents and summer visitors. Results showed that 88 percent approved of the plan; the group then pressed the Town Council to act.
The Town Council passed a resolution in November that made the beach a voluntary tobacco-free zone. Last week, Old Orchard Beach implemented the policy by posting signs stating, in English and in French, "Please do not use tobacco products on our beach." Hattie is now working with other Maine towns to help them develop tobacco-free beach and parks campaigns. Hattie was the only youth invited to present at the Healthy Maine Partnerships Annual Meeting in Augusta.
More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders will attend the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' 16th annual gala in Washington, D.C., to recognize these young leaders. The winners will receive educational scholarships and grants to continue their prevention efforts and serve as ambassadors for the Campaign.
"Hattie Simon and other young leaders from across the nation are making great strides in the fight against tobacco and their voices are being heard," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Every day, 1,000 kids in the United States become regular smokers and one-third of them will die prematurely from tobacco-caused disease. Young leaders like Hattie Simon play a critical role in preventing kids from smoking and reducing tobacco's terrible toll on our nation."
In Maine, 18.1 percent of high school students smoke, and 1,500 kids become daily smokers every year. Every year, tobacco use kills 2,200 Maine residents and costs the state $602 million in health care bills. Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation $96 billion in health care expenditures each year.
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