Texoma teens fight back against Big Tobacco

Texoma teens fight back against Big Tobacco
© Texoma teens fought back against Big Tobacco.
© Texoma teens fought back against Big Tobacco.

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Dozens of Texoma teens fought back against big tobacco on Saturday.

They attended a Say What!, which stands for students, adults, youths against tobacco, Action summit at the Wichita Falls MPEC. The organization is a Texas tobacco prevention organization created by teens to educate their peers of the dangers of its use.

"[I want to] take tobacco down," Ava Ford, a teen ambassador said. "I want it to end for good."

Amanda Kennedy, a health educator for the Wichita County, Wichita Falls Health District, said only 17 percent of area teens use tobacco.

"If the youth can understand most people do not actually use tobacco, then they can understand that's something not expected of them," Amanda said.

"I have a whole other generation behind me and following my lead and I have to set an example for them," Kendall Peeler, a Burkburnett Middle School seventh-grader said.

Many of the teens who attended the summit have been impacted by tobacco use.

"My dad smokes and I'm trying to get him to quit and the rest of my family get addicted to things really quickly," Ava Ford, a Burkburnett Middle School seventh-grader said. "So, I want to be the generation to stop! and quit it all together. "

Audra Kennedy, a teen ambassador and Amanda's daughter, said her paternal grandfather passed away from liver and lung cancer. A disease she said caused by years of chain smoking.

"He actually smoked about six packs a day around the time he died," Audra said. "It was just really sad. heartbreaking because my grandmother actually died three days before he did."

The teens said big tobacco is targeting them in a new way.

"I see a lot of vaping," Ford said. "They think its safer but 'safer' doesn't mean safe."

"They come in neat cute little packages and they think 'oh this is cute. I want to use this,'" Amanda said.

She compares them to smartphones.

"Are you going to smoke a smartphone? No, you're not going to smoke a smartphone so don't smoke an e-cigarette," Amanda said.

The next summit will be held at Cambria McAllen Convention Center in McAllen, Texas on February 17.

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