Four Everett High School (EHS) students participated in the annual Kick Butts Day at the State House as part of a national effort in which youth advocate for stronger policies and restrictions on tobacco.
Jonathan Driscoll, Lula Abdullahi, Gueshnael Menard, and Maryan Abo, all members of Teens in Everett Against Substance Abuse (TEASA), joined more than 250 students from across Massachusetts at the event. They met with representatives from the offices of Senator Sal DiDomenico and state representatives Wayne Matewsky, Jason Lewis, Cory Atkins, and Sean Garbally to discuss ways to combat tobacco use among teenagers. TEASA advisors Jaime Lederer and Julie Ann Whitson accompanied the students on the trip.
The focus of the visits centered on the easy access and affordability of electronic cigarettes. Youth shared stories about how tobacco use has affected their families and friends. E-cigarettes, along with other tobacco products like cigarillos, are heavily marketed toward youth by the tobacco industry through the use of candy flavors and flashy packaging to disguise tobacco’s hidden dangers.
The 84.org organized Massachusetts’ Kick Butts Day legislative visits. Maryan Abo, a senior at Everett High School, is a member of 84.org youth statewide leadership team and she appeared on Fox 25 News to promote the organization and its efforts. 84.org is a statewide movement of youth fighting tobacco in Massachusetts. The “84” represents the 84 percent of Massachusetts youth who did not smoke when the movement began. Now, 86 percent of youth do not smoke.