Youth are often viewed as problems or victims in society, not as competent citizens capable of meaningful participation. But young people all over Maine are working to resist tobacco, and our communities are recognizing them as a huge potential resource.
Youth thrive when they have a connection with a project over the long term. They reach out to younger youth through mentoring, generate marketing ideas, and solve problems. They have the energy, and often the schedules, that lead to strong community work, and they can exert a major influence over peers and adults.
Youth are making a big impact, both in Maine and nationally. They are getting involved in policy changes, and they are developing relationships with tobacco retailers to encourage them to reduce the amount of tobacco in their stores. They are exposing the lies of the tobacco companies, supporting those who want to quit, and helping peers resist the pressures to smoke.
Maine youth participate in Peer Leadership Conferences, the Youth Advocacy Program, and the Annual Maine Anti-Tobacco Youth Summit, which gathers hundreds of youth from across the state and provides them with tools, skills and resources so they can play a leading role in making their communities healthier.
Are you a youth who wants to join the fight against Big Tobacco? Or, are you a parent with a youth who wants to get involved? Here are some ways to learn more and get involved in the fight:
Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN)
Maine Youth Action Network connects people and programs throughout Maine with the mission of training, supporting, connecting and advocating for youth. MYAN was organized to create positive change through school and community-based peer programs. Youth groups of all types can be a part of MYAN, including those involved in social action, prevention, mentoring, and health promotion.
Ignite works to get Big Tobacco out of politics by engaging young people in the political process. Ignite’s Maine chapter, located in Oxford county, promotes local and statewide advocacy for tobacco policy change, pressures politicians to reject campaign contributions from tobacco companies and their interests, informs voters of tobacco issues in key elections, and coordinates national political efforts. Contact Ignite.
The Star Store Program
Retailers play a critical role in the mission of prevention.
The tobacco industry spends $70 million in Maine alone to promote its products. It’s estimated that 85% of the tobacco industry’s annual marketing budget is now spent on ads and promotions in retail stores such as gas stations, convenience stores, and even pharmacies.
Youth are particularly vulnerable to retail advertising. They shop in convenience stores regularly, where they are bombarded with point-of-sale advertising, promotions, discounts and freebies, and the tobacco messages are working: 1,700 Maine kids become new daily smokers each year. Learn more about how the tobacco industry targets youth at our Tobacco Marketing Tactics page.
As part of the NO BUTS! program, the The Star Store initiative encourages retailers to reduce tobacco advertising in their stores and reduce minors’ exposure to tobacco messaging. Star Store is a voluntary program, and in combination with NO BUTS!, it helps advance the best retailing practices further by reducing the exposure of tobacco messages, advertising, and promotion to youth. As part of the program, stores that reduce tobacco advertising receive Star Store decals along with other promotional items – and local recognition and publicity.
Most importantly, Star Store gets youth involved. Youth visit retail outlets, meet with managers, conduct surveys and make recommendations. They provide retailers with information about the program and make decisions about awarding Star Store status.
You can also read more about the goals for the NO BUTS! Star Store program by reading the state’s Resolve.
Want to get involved in the program? Contact your local Healthy Maine Partnerships chapter to learn about the Star Store program and to learn more about youth and adult advocacy opportunities. You can also visit our Communities section to learn how youth can get involved in prevention.
Here are some other ways to get started now:
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids – Get involved in youth advocacy efforts.
SceneSmoking – Find out about the impact of smoking & tobacco references in entertainment. Write movie reviews, write letters, and get information about current films.
TheTruth – Interactive, in-your-face ways to learn the truth about Big Tobacco.
Unleash Your C – Maine's interactive teen website allows you to navigate through information, games, and quizzes, while learning the truth about tobacco and how your choices affect you and those around you.