On February 21 and 22, Ventura County Office of Education, with support from the Tobacco Use Prevention Education Consortium Grant districts and the Conejo, Simi Valley, and Ventura Unified School Districts, held the 20th annual Teens Kick Ash Youth Tobacco Free Advocacy Conference. Each year, this conference gives participants important, factual information about the health risks of tobacco, and equips them with tools to disseminate this information to their schools and peers.
This year, over the course of two days, nearly 330 students and 60 teachers attended the event. Day one hosted middle school students and day two, high school. While the audiences were different, the message was consistent: addiction on the brain is an invisible process, the teen brain is especially vulnerable.
This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Victor DeNoble, a world-renowned scientist who once worked for the tobacco industry before testifying against them through congressional hearings in 1994. His story gave students the insight and awareness of the insudutry’s strategic targeting of young people for tobacco consumption – including emerging products such as vapes.
After Dr. DeNoble’s morning address, students were then able to attend seven different workshop offerings to give them additional information about tobacco products, and how they can use different strategies (such as presentations, music, art, and video) to educate their peers and engage them in discussion about this always important, ever-evolving topic.