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High school members of Our Voices Xposed (OVX) and middle school members of Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) were recognized by the Vermont Department of Health for standing against the dangers of flavored tobacco and e-cigarette use among Vermont’s youth. Students participated in an annual tobacco prevention education campaign, an initiative of OVX, VKAT and CounterBalance, the state’s tobacco counter-marketing campaign, to amplify the message: flavored tobacco products attract and harm youth.

During the 2019 – 2020 school year, OVX and VKAT youth members let their voices be heard by marching to the Vermont State House to educate lawmakers and the public about teens using flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes. Additionally, student leaders met with select boards to promote smoke-free public areas, and they completed logo, poster and PSA projects.

“The Danville OVX and VKAT groups put in a lot of time to learn about the dangers the tobacco industry poses to the youth of Vermont,” Danville’s OVX youth and group advisor Spencer Morse said. “They then convert that learning into educating their peers and the public at large. This year, Jasmine Dunbar stepped up to take a strong lead on our group’s efforts to make Joes Pond Beach substance free. We are proud of her and all of the members’ efforts over this past year.”

According to the 2019 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, since 2015, lifetime and current electronic vapor product (EVP) use has significantly increased with current use, more than doubling between 2017 (12%) and 2019 (26%). From 2017 to 2019, ever using a flavored tobacco product increased among high school students (21% to 27%) and among middle school students (5% to 8%).

“For the last few years I have been working with the Danville OVX advisors and youth,” NVRH Prevention Specialist Tennyson Marceau said. “And I couldn’t be more proud of how they are changing the world. And to our Vermont State Youth Leader, Jasmine, you deserve this, thank you for all your hard work!”

The 2019 – 2020 OVX Award Honorees for leadership and outstanding accomplishment are Jasmine Dunbar, Danville High School, Outstanding Youth Leader; Shamura Awayle, Burlington High School, Outstanding Youth Leader; Melanie Sheehan, Outstanding Community Collaborator with Woodstock Middle and High Schools; Spaulding High School, Outstanding OVX Group.

“I would like to congratulate the Danville OVX/VKAT groups on their outstanding work this year,” Danville’s OVX youth and group advisor Guy Pearce said. “We did so many great things and we will continue our commitment to making our environment tobacco and nicotine free. I also want to congratulate Jasmine Dunbar: she took the lead on making Joes Pond Beach substance-free. Well done!”

Our Voices Exposed (OVX) and Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) groups engage and empower youth ages 10 to 18 through leadership opportunities. They educate students, community members and decision makers on the tactics used by the tobacco industry, encourage healthy choices among peers, and work to reduce tobacco use and change social norms. OVX and VKAT also work with the Vermont Department of Health on media and counter-tobacco marketing campaigns. For more information about OVX and VKAT, visit HealthVermont.gov.