WASHINGTON, May 11, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Carlos Vela, 18, of Ingleside, Texas, 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. Carlos was honored Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Carlos was previously named the 2016 South Region Youth Advocate of the Year.
Carlos has tirelessly pursued a smoke-free ordinance in Ingleside. While a referendum on the measure was defeated by just 10 votes last Saturday, Carlos vows to continue fighting to make Ingleside smoke-free and protect everyone in his hometown from harmful secondhand smoke.
Carlos has also worked to get Texas legislators to increase the state's tobacco sale age to 21. If passed, Texas would become the third state (after Hawaii and California) to take this step to reduce youth tobacco use and save lives. Carlos is an ambassador for Say What! (Students, Adults and Youth Working Hard Against Tobacco!), a movement to reduce tobacco use in Texas. A senior at Ingleside High School, Carlos will attend Texas A&M University Corpus Christi this fall.
"We are thrilled to honor Carlos as our National Youth Advocate of the Year," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Young leaders like Carlos are standing up to the tobacco industry, inspiring their peers to be tobacco-free and encouraging elected officials to take action. They are helping create the first tobacco-free generation."
Over 400 public health, business, civic and political leaders attended the Youth Advocates of the Year awards ceremony to recognize Carlos and other youth advocates from across the country. The winners received scholarships to continue their tobacco prevention efforts and will serve as youth ambassadors for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 480,000 Americans and costing the nation $170 billion in health care bills each year. Tobacco kills 6 million people worldwide each year.
In Texas, tobacco use claims 28,000 lives and costs over $8.8 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.6 percent of Texas's high school students smoke and 14.4 percent use e-cigarettes.
Additional information about the youth award winners and the toll of tobacco can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids