I am a sophomore at Asheville High School, an active member of the Teens Against Tobacco Use club and a recent hire at Youth Empowered Solutions. I recently read an article about the Bele Chere Camel tobacco booth, which hands out coupons and special offers that make tobacco products even more accessible to the public. This is yet another way for tobacco companies to advertise to the youth of our community.
My peers and I would like to eliminate this booth. When a festival is named “beautiful living” it means that we have to take active steps to make it a place where families can go without having to worry about their children inhaling dangerous carcinogens. With recent budget cuts to tobacco-prevention organizations, it is even more difficult for advocates to compete with the big tobacco companies’ $10.5 billion-a-year investment in advertisements. That is why we need change at the policy level. Our community doesn’t need to worry about their children picking up pro-smoking imagery.
Tobacco prevention is something that we should think about in every aspect of our lives, from health to cost, even at a downtown festival. In fact, every $1 invested in tobacco prevention in the last 10 years, the state saved $5 in hospitalization costs. Please contact our local government and support the movement to get rid of tobacco sponsorship at Bele Chere.
— Emma Jean Harper