Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and blueberry – these words probably bring up a memory of the time when we would dress up in our scariest outfit and go door to door for Halloween in hopes of receiving a sweet treat. Even though sweet memories of stuffing your face with candy may come to mind, these flavors are also used in tobacco products. Tobacco companies are marketing and promoting smokeless tobacco products and smaller cigars, which look, taste, and are packaged like candy. Big tobacco is focusing their efforts on enticing youth in order to lock in their future “replacement smokers.” As youth activists, we must take notice of this problem and make a move for change.

(dis)tasteful is a campaign led by Y Street, Virginia’s largest youth-led activism movement. The campaign is letting Virginians know that tobacco in any flavor is addictive and toxic. Working together, we hope our movement will spread the word about why flavored non-cigarette tobacco products are dangerous, and build support for a world without flavored tobacco!

This summer, myself and a group of Y Street activists had the awesome opportunity to film an awareness video for the (dis)tasteful campaign. The experience was really great! First, we had a wonderful makeup artist make us beautiful for the camera. Next, we spent a ton of time rehearsing our lines together. We also got to spend some time getting to know each other – it was really fun to get to know other Y-Sters from all over the state.

When it was my turn to get in front of the camera, I was ready – or at least I thought I was! I guess I was a bit camera shy and it was kind of hard to read the cue cards without my glasses. But I finally managed to get through all my lines and have a great time! I got to meet new people, eat great food and experience something I’ve never done before and all in the name of tobacco prevention – a goal I am passionate about that made this experience great.

Angie is a student at Stafford High School and an active member of Y Street, a program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth

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