Brittani Jones, 18, has been named the Eastern Region Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for her leadership in the fight against tobacco. The Dorchester teen was honored at a gala in the nation’s capital last Thursday (May 2) along with a national winner, three other regional winners, a group winner and a military winner.
Brittani is a senior at Boston Trinity Academy. She first became involved in the fight against tobacco because her grandmother smoked and struggled to quit. After joining Breath of Life Dorchester (BOLD Teens), a peer leadership group, Brittani was chosen to serve on the statewide leadership team of The 84, a youth-led movement fighting for a tobacco-free generation in Massachusetts. The name refers to the fact that 84 percent of high school students in Massachusetts choose to be tobacco-free.
Brittani was a key planner of The 84’s Kick Butts Day event this year; she and her peers marched to the State House and urged state legislators to support a proposed $1.00 cigarette tax increase. She also led a statewide training with 200 youth participants.
Brittani is interested in international tobacco control; she planned a social justice week at her high school that included a workshop on the tobacco industry in Latin America.
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 Brittani as one of our Youth Advocates of the Year,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Young leaders like Brittani 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 Massachusetts, 14 percent of high school students smoke. Every year, 6,700 kids become daily smokers, and tobacco use kills 9,000 Bay Staters and costs the state $3.5 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.