WASHINGTON -- Gabe Glissmeyer, 18, of Salt Lake City, has been named the National Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for his leadership in the fight against tobacco.
Gabe is being honored at a gala in the nation's capital on Thursday along with four U.S. regional winners and a group winner.
Gabe's passion for tobacco-control advocacy began when he saw the harm that tobacco caused to his older sister, who started smoking at a young age. His interest deepened when he attended a gay pride event and was shocked to be told that he "couldn't be gay" because he didn't smoke. He soon learned how the tobacco industry targets the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Gabe then created Out of the Smoke, a program at the Utah Pride Center dedicated to helping people quit and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Gabe also is president of the Youth Leadership Board of Utah's statewide youth tobacco-control program, One Good Reason. Working with One Good Reason, Gabe helped to survey 1,800 Utah teens about new, dissolvable tobacco products. The group's initiative, "It's All about the Packaging" was featured on national television and results were provided to the state of Colorado, where dissolvable products were being test-marketed. Gabe also has testified about tobacco issues before the Utah Legislature.
More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders will attend the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' 16th annual gala in Washington, D.C., to recognize these young leaders. The winners will receive educational scholarships and grants to continue their prevention efforts and serve as ambassadors for the Campaign.
"Gabe Glissmeyer and other young leaders from across the nation are making great strides in the fight against tobacco and their voices are being heard," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Every day, 1,000 kids in the United States become regular smokers and roughly one-third of them will die prematurely from tobacco-caused disease. Young leaders like Gabe Glissmeyer play a critical role in preventing kids from smoking and reducing tobacco's terrible toll on our nation."
In Utah, 8.5 percent of high school students smoke, and 1,500 kids become daily smokers every year. Every year, tobacco use kills 1,100 Utah residents and costs the state $345 million in health care bills. Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation $96 billion in health care expenditures each year.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.