WASHINGTON — Sara Kay, 18, ofHonolulu has been named the 2018 National Youth Champion by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Sara received the organization’s highest youth honor yesterday in Washington, D.C.
Sara is a fierce advocate for policies to reduce tobacco use. The issue is personal for her – she lost her grandmother, a nonsmoker, to lung disease likely caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. As a
leader in the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii’s Youth Council, Sara helped pass a law prohibiting smoking in cars with kids throughout Oahu. Sara also pushed for a similar statewide law,
contacting lawmakers and testifying before the Legislature in support of the proposal. A senior at The Punahou School, Sara will study biomedical engineering and public health at Dartmouth University in the fall.
“We are thrilled to honor Sara Kay as our National Youth Champion,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Young leaders like Sara are standing up to the tobacco industry, inspiring their peers to be tobacco-free and encouraging elected officials to take action. They are helping create the first tobacco-free generation.”
Over 400 public health, business, civic and political leaders attended the Youth Advocates of the Year awards ceremony to recognize Sara and other youth advocates from across the country. The winners received scholarships to continue their tobacco prevention efforts and will serve as youth ambassadors for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 480,000 Americans and costing the nation $170 billion in health care bills each year. Tobacco kills 7 million people worldwide each year.
In Hawaii, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 9.7 percent of Hawaii’s high school students smoke and 25.1 percent use e-cigarettes.