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Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Honors REAL of Hawai'i As Youth Advocates of the Year

--Leadership in Fight Against Tobacco Recognized Nationally--

WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Members of the group REAL of Hawai'i have been named Youth Advocates of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for their leadership in the fight against tobacco. Members of REAL are being honored with the national group award at a gala in the nation's capital tonight (May 6) along with a national, individual winner and four regional winners.

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REAL was one of the nation's first statewide, youth-led tobacco control movements founded after the 1998 state tobacco settlement. Over the past decade, youth in Hawai'i have worked to gain adult support and recognition for youth empowerment and activism. They have worked to pass and defend a statewide smoke-free workplace law and advocated for a tobacco tax increase that passed on the first try. REAL also has worked on issues that reach beyond Hawai'i, supporting FDA regulation of tobacco products and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. With no paid media support, REAL works through peer-to-peer marketing and grassroots mobilization. Their most notable achievements include a "Girl Talk" campaign in response to R.J. Reynolds' marketing of Camel #9 cigarettes and "Youth Unite for Kick Butts Day," an all-day event at the state Capitol.

More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders will attend the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' 13th annual anniversary 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.

"Members of REAL, along with other young leaders from across the nation, are making great strides against youth tobacco addiction and their voices are being heard," said Matthew L. Myers, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president. "Every day, 1,000 kids in the United States become regular smokers and one-third of them will die prematurely from tobacco-caused disease. Almost 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before the age of 18. Youth are powerful allies in the fight to turn these trends around."

In Hawai'i, almost 13 percent of high school students smoke, and 1,600 kids become daily smokers every year. Every year, tobacco use kills 1,100 Hawai'i residents and costs the state $336 million in health care bills. Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation more than $96 billion in health care costs each year.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leader in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences in the United States and around the world. By changing public attitudes and public policies on tobacco, the Campaign strives to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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