On January 31, second-year Youth Leadership Council member Carlos Vela testified about how slashing funds to the Tobacco Prevention and Control program would hurt the community wide efforts made by Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalitions (TPCC) across Texas.
Carlos testified that the proposed 47% cut in state funds would reverse all of the work that has been done to prevent youth picking up smoking at an early age.
“When I was in ninth grade, my friend and I were offered a tobacco product from a seniors in one of my high school classes. This student offered us an e-cigarette while we were at school.” Carlos said.
Carlos believes that if not for the program Students, Adults and Youth Working Hard Against Tobacco (Say What!), a program that is funded by the state, that he would have become a smoker, much like several members of his family.
“Say What! Gave me the tools I need to say no to tobacco products. The program has also provided me and my fellow students educational resources so that we can tell our friends why they not use tobacco products. In my experience, hearing information like this from your friends and peers, instead of teachers and adults is more impactful.” Carlos testified.
Carlos has participated in volunteer cigarette butt clean ups and lobbied the Ingleside City Council to pass a more comprehensive smoking ordinance.
Carlos’ fear that a $5.5 million budget cut from the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program could result in more youth smoking at an early age is not one to be taken lightly. In other U.S. states where tobacco prevention budgets have been cut youth smoking rates have increased.
He closed his testimony before the Senate Finance Committee with, “I am asking you to fully fund tobacco prevention services in the budget.”
Texans Standing Tall supports the efforts of Say What! Every year, we take our YLC members to Say What! conferences so that they can learn more about environmental prevention and more about being engaged in their communities. We are extremely proud of Carlos for having the confidence and leadership skills to speak before Texas lawmakers.