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Youth Influence Tobacco Use and Policy in Appalachia

photo of Ickes
Dr. Melinda Ickes

Dr. Melinda Ickes, associate professor of health promotion in the UK College of Education Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, trains youth in Appalachia as advocates to promote tobacco control policies in Kentucky.

Kentucky communities suffer disproportionately from tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer. Training youth to become advocates is an effective strategy to improve health equity.

Trainings provided information on tobacco use, consequences, industry tactics, evidence-based tobacco control and advocacy skills.

Post-training, more students supported tobacco policies and realized policies are an effective strategy to reduce tobacco use. And, the students reported greater interpersonal confidence talking with others about tobacco-related issues, as well as greater advocacy self-efficacy. In an area known for a challenging political landscape, these youth in Appalachia demonstrate desire to influence tobacco use and policy to improve their communities.