WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tyler Long, 18, of Fletcher, North Carolina, has been named the National Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for his leadership in the fight against tobacco. Tyler will be honored at a gala in the nation's capital on Thursday (May 2) along with four U.S. regional winners, a group winner and a military winner.
Tyler is a senior at Asheville High School. The grandson of a tobacco farmer, Tyler heard mixed messages about tobacco use while growing up. To help his peers understand its dangers, he started a Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) club at his middle school. Today he is president of his high school's chapter.
Tyler is a youth leader in North Carolina's statewide tobacco prevention program, Tobacco Reality Unfiltered (TRU), and he has worked to defend the program from budget cuts. He regularly conducts advocacy trainings and twice a year runs the TRU fair where he educates middle school students about tobacco use. He also played a leading role in ending tobacco sponsorship of Bele Chere, a major music and arts festival in Asheville.
Tyler is currently working to make parks tobacco-free in neighboring Yancey County and multi-unit housing smoke-free in Asheville.
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 Tyler as our National Youth Advocate of the Year," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Young leaders like Tyler 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 North Carolina, 15.5 percent of high school students smoke. Every year, 11,100 kids become daily smokers, and tobacco use kills 12,200 North Carolinians and costs the state $2.5 billion 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