WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Alexander Higginbotham, 16, of Odessa, Missouri, has been named winner of the 2013 Joining Forces Award for Youth Advocacy by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for his leadership in the fight against tobacco. Alex will be honored at a gala in the nation's capital on Thursday (May 2) along with a national winner, four regional winners and a group winner.
Alex is a junior at Odessa High School, and his father is a Navy commander. Alex is involved with Smokebusters/Show-Me PALS (People Advocating Living Smoke-free) in Missouri and serves as the group's vice president. He also recruited 28 youth and founded Odessa's first chapter of Students with a Goal (SWAG).
Alex has mobilized his peers and engaged his city council in support of smoke-free air policies. This fall, he recorded two radio public service announcements and created a Halloween-themed campaign in support of Missouri's ballot initiative to raise the tobacco tax that reached over 400 people. As Vice President of Show-Me PALS, Alex led the youth training portion and spoke at the Tobacco-Free Missouri Capitol Day rally.
In 2011, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids announced a partnership with Joining Forces, the White House initiative to support military families and improve the health of active-duty personnel, their families and veterans. Its wellness component includes tobacco prevention and cessation, two keys to reducing the debilitating disease and death caused by tobacco and preventing the children of military personnel from starting to smoke.
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 Alex as one of our Youth Advocates of the Year," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Young leaders like Alex 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 Missouri, 18.1 percent of high school students smoke. Every year, 8,000 kids become daily smokers, and tobacco use kills 9,500 Missourians and costs the state more than $2 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