The Future is Theirs
How Youth/Young Adults are Rising Up to Respond to JUUL and the Vaping Crisis
December 2 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This Empower Series event is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and Prevention Connections.
In the wake of the multiple health impacts, increase in vaping illnesses, and even deaths due to e-cigarette use it is more important now than ever to educate the public and take action against big tobacco, including e-cigarette companies, and to push the FDA to take considerable action.
JUUL has taken a page out of the big tobacco play book, and directly marketed to youth with their flavors and targeted advertising, and youth are standing up to fight back. Truth Initiative has used our award winning truth campaign, along with our community and youth engagement team to provide our youth and young adult activists with the tools to create lasting change and to take action in their communities against tobacco.
Participants of this session will learn more details about our youth activists’ response to vaping and flavors, specifically covering the upcoming and former National Day of Action that took place last year across the country, and with one large rally in downtown DC that brought out decision makers and local and national media; youth presence at multiple congressional hearings on JUUL; a Capitol Hill day to meet with congressional staffers; support of local campaign work at Meharry Medical School, a HBCU that recently received a $7.5M grant from JUUL; Community Leader trainings; and a multitude of online and digital actions to gather further support and allow for individuals to share their personal stories around vaping.
Participants will also learn ways to engage directly with their youth and young adult base, virtually and in person, to spread education and facts on vaping, ways to take action within their communities, as well as receive access to different tools and resources from Truth Initiative.
- The ways in which Truth Initiative’s youth and young adult activists have taken action against JUUL and e-cigarettes in the last 18 months.
- How Truth Initiative engages with youth and young adults, directly on the ground, by using traditional and non-traditional grassroots organizing strategies.
- Ways to work with Truth Initiative to engage and mobilize youth and young adults; key learnings and tips to directly engage and develop your own youth leaders on tobacco related issues.
Ashley Thomas, Director of Community Outreach
Ashley currently serves as the Director of Community Outreach for Truth Initiative. She works with her team to oversee local community activism on the ground in Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC. She is also responsible for creating and implementing tactics to build up local and national power to help embolden youth and young adults to reject tobacco and take meaningful action.
Before joining Truth Initiative, Ashley spent seven years at Greenpeace USA, working in their Grassroots team, managing their on the ground canvassing team on local activism. Ashley works to hold large corporations accountable, and help ignite a new wave of activists.
Ashley received a BA in Global Politics and Economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Denise Smith, MPH, Director of College Activism
As Director of College Activism at Truth Initiative, Denise has worked with 183 Minority Serving Institutions including HBCUs and Community Colleges throughout the U.S. integrating tobacco advocacy into their existing programs. Through this work she has helped over 100 colleges adopt tobacco-free campus policies.
To increase student engagement in the tobacco-free college program, Denise developed the truth College Leader program, which focuses on the power of student advocacy, leadership development, engagement events and organizing to achieve policy change.
Denise holds a Master of Public Health degree from Morehouse School of Medicine. Currently, Denise is pursuing her PhD in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies at Howard University.
Jasmine Hicks, Director of Youth Leadership Development
Jasmine is currently the Director of Youth Leadership Development for Truth Initiative. Truth Initiative is America’s largest non-profit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past.
Before joining Truth Initiative, Jasmine served as the National Field Director at Young Invincibles, a national millennial advocacy organization where she worked to ensure that young adults’ concerns were being heard on higher education and healthcare reform. Prior to that, she worked at MassVOTE organizing high school students on civic engagement issues. Jasmine really enjoys empowering and activating young people on issues that are important to them.
Jasmine is a graduate of Northeastern University where she completed studies in Political Science with a concentration in Policy Administration.