Tobacco industry gets REAL

The Kaua‘i War Memorial Center Convention Hall today will host “The Real Experience 4: Kaua‘i Style” an anti-tobacco summit for youth who want to learn to speak out against tobacco use, secondhand smoke and the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics.

The event is sponsored by REAL: Hawai‘i Youth Movement Exposing the Tobacco Industry. Approximately 50 young people from Kaua‘i are expected to participate.

“It’s a great chance to meet new people and share our ideas,” said Brent Sokei, Kaua‘i Community College freshman and a member of REAL’s statewide youth board, in a press release. “Tobacco is affecting our generation and we need to take a stand since we are the ones being targeted.”

The goal of the summit is to arm participants with anti-tobacco activism skills. The summit teaches these skills through various activities including expression sessions, which are workshops focused on helping youth express themselves through different mediums such as slam poetry and street art.

Other training sessions will feature speakers from Tobacco-Free Kaua‘i, The Boys and Girls Club of Hawai‘i n Kaua‘i Branch, MAC Cosmetics, and the Department of Health’s Clear the Smoke tobacco counter-marketing campaign.

“Tobacco companies are marketing their product to young people by glamorizing art and fashion. This event will help to expose the truth about tobacco industry marketing and allow youth to experiment with different ways of expressing themselves while also having a good time,” said Nicole Sutton, REAL program director with Cancer Research Center of Hawai‘i, in the release.

The anti-tobacco summit is an all day event, running today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Following the event’s training sessions, the summit will culminate with youth bringing to life their activism skills by staging an anti-tobacco sign-waving demonstration on the streets of Lihu‘e. An after-party celebration for summit participants will be held this evening.

“This is the best way for young people to get involved in making a difference in our community,” said Sheryll Yotsuda, Kaua‘i Community College sophomore and REAL statewide youth board member, in the release.

“Hawai‘i Youth Movement Exposing the Tobacco Industry” is made up of youth members from throughout the state. Membership continues to grow with 3,000 Hawai‘i youth presently standing up to the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics. REAL sponsors events, conducts street marketing, and has created the REAL brand to counter tobacco advertising.

The group seeks to create an empowered, healthy, smoke-free generation of youth. REAL is coordinated through the Cancer Research Center, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and funded by the Master Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund through the Hawai‘i State Department of Health.

The Clear the Smoke campaign is funded exclusively by the Hawai‘i Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund and administered by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. The goal of the campaign is to fight back against the tobacco industry with an aggressive and effective public awareness and counter-marketing campaign.

The trust fund’s dollars represent a portion of Hawai‘i’s Master Settlement Agreement payments, which are the result of a joint lawsuit against the four biggest U.S. tobacco companies to recover health care costs for treatment of tobacco-related illnesses paid for by taxpayers.

The Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund and its Advisory Board were created by Hawai‘i’s landmark legislation (Act 304, SLH 1999) devoting a significant portion of Hawai‘i’s tobacco settlement money to public health efforts.

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