Over 3 million teens are using e-cigarettes. They see their friends using them. They see a lack of prevention messaging about their negative effects and they decide to use it. I realized that I had to speak up.
So when I first started working on this, I was a 15-year-old taking on the e-cigarette industry, so it was David versus Goliath. I started by learning about the history of deceptive marketing tactics, of appealing to youth, and then I started working in my school community to educate my peers. And together we founded Students Against Nicotine.
We started speaking at county meetings about legislation like Tobacco 21, and we kept speaking. We kept raising our voices. We appeared on the local news. We created a PSA. I spoke at legislative hearings before the New York State Senate. I spoke at meetings with Governor Cuomo, and after years of advocacy, we were able to pass the No Vape New York package, which banned the sale of e-cigarettes at pharmacies and banned the use of flavors in e-cigarettes.
I’m extremely proud of this accomplishment because it’s having a major impact already on millions of teens.