Local Tobacco Control Advocate Asks Youth to Take a Walk in His Shoes
The YM&YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood (the Y), joined the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, local youth and health advocates to denounce the tobacco industry for recruiting youth smokers at a press conference in Times Square to mark World No Tobacco Day, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization. World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31 and helps to spread awareness of the risks of tobacco use. Currently, 20,000 NYC public high school students smoke. One-third of them, approximately 6,600, will die prematurely from smoking. To represent the terrible cost tobacco imposes on New Yorkers’ lives, the NYC Coalition unveiled an art installation: “6,600” spelled out with children’s shoes. Before the press conference, the Y collected signatures from other community organizations and local youth to show their support of World No Tobacco Day and the NYC Coalition’s effort to end the tobacco epidemic. The Y’s youth delegate, Andrew Dos Santos (pictured above, center), was among the youth participants at the press conference.
Andrew is a young-adult member of the Washington Heights community who grew up watching those around him become affected by smoking. Despite the pressure, Andrew stood strong and made the choice to not smoke, and is extremely thankful he did. . We have all heard the sad cases of tobacco claiming the lives of loved ones, but Andrew’s story serves as an inspiration for struggling youth. Andrew now works for the Y as a program aid for the Summer Youth Employment Program. In this role, Andrew acts as a mentor for local youth, setting a good example by being tobacco-free and making healthy choices.
Andrew’s experience in playing sports through middle school and through college made him understand the importance of an optimally functioning body. His goals and aspirations to play in college meant keeping his grades up, training hard, and treating his body well. After much hard work, Andrew was accepted to Ohio Wesleyan University where he plays football for the Battling Bishops. After his first week of training camp, he was very glad that he had put in the work and stayed away from tobacco in high school. By remaining tobacco-free, Andrew developed better stamina than some of his team mates.
The YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood commends Andrew on his conscious effort to contribute to fight against the tobacco epidemic. We urge everyone to continue spreading the knowledge of the dangers of tobacco use. For each adult who dies early due to smoking, two new young smokers replace them. By continuing to rally against the dangers of tobacco use, we can save the next generation from a life of nicotine addiction.