NORTH ATTLEBORO – Youth from the Hockomock Area YMCA marched to the Statehouse Wednesday for the annual “Kick Butts Day,” voicing their concerns to legislators about tobacco use among their peers.
The North 84 Leaders were also named the Most Outstanding New Chapter of “The 84 Movement,” a program from the state Department of Health named after the 84 percent of youth who didn’t smoke when the initiative began in 2007. That number has since climbed to 89 percent.
The group rallied on Boston Common with more than 100 other members of The 84 Movement, chanting and holding signs calling out the tobacco industry’s tactics to market to young people.
The march was Katelyn Hewett’s favorite part of the day.
“It was awesome and inspiring,” said Hewett, a sophomore at North Attleboro High School.
The young advocates met with state Rep. Betty Poirier and other legislators, speaking about cheap, flavored tobacco products that can appeal to teenagers.
Dawn DaCosta, the teen and community director at the Y and the advisor of The North 84, said the experience gave the group a glimpse into the inner-workings of the Legislature.
“I don’t think a lot of people actually take the opportunity to visit the Statehouse, and to see that process,” DaCosta said.
She said members also boosted their public speaking skills and learned more about tobacco laws.
Hewett said she cares about the issue because she sees her peers using tobacco. She wants to makes sure her younger brother and sister are informed.
“By the time they get into high school, they’ll know the dangers, and won’t be tempted to try tobacco or experiment,” Hewett said.
She’s hoping that the board of health in North Attleboro will up the age to purchase tobacco to 21, as at least 80 other Massachusetts communities have done.
Find the original article here.