Passing Policies to Protect Youth by Aaron Roy
Hello, my name is Aaron Roy and I’m 15 from Duncan Ok. I work with the youth program called YAHL which is an acronym for Youth Action for Health Leadership. We try to raise health standards for youth all over Oklahoma. I joined YAHL to become a better version of myself. I’m glad that I’m part of YAHL because I think we can make an impact by passing policies and informing teens about the dangers of tobacco products.
Some things I’ve noticed about teens when it comes to tobacco is that they are likely to fall into peer pressure and that they are able to access nicotine products. Peer pressure is a big problem in high school and middle school because if someone sees all of their friends smoking and vaping then teens think “what’s wrong if I do it?”. That’s what a lot of teens think when they’re with friends trying new things, they do what the person they trust does. It’s incredibly unhealthy, not only because of them trying dangerous products like vapes but also because they lose their individualism. Through YAHL we can better educate teens about tobacco and vapes so they might not give in to peer pressure as easily. I know that I will try my best to show others that you don’t have to follow the social norms to be liked.
Buying nicotine products is easy for teens. That statement should either surprise you or worry you. In Oklahoma, we don’t have comprehensive retail licensing in place to protect youth from vapes and nicotine products. Vaping has nicotine, an addictive material, and other harmful materials in it like lead, nickel, and other metals. Through YAHL and one of the campaigns we work on, CounterAct Tobacco, we work to improve Oklahoma’s licensing policy on e-cigs and vapes.