Every business needs new customers. As tobacco companies face more restrictions on the marketing and use of tobacco, they’re developing new products and packaging that could appeal to young people. At the No Limits Fall Summit, Nebraska youth learned how to recognize these tactics.
No Limits is Nebraska’s youth-led anti-tobacco program. The summit, held Nov. 20-21 at Camp Comeca near Cozad, gave nearly 150 middle school and high school students information about the tobacco industry and tools to engage in anti-tobacco activism in their own communities.
“The cool thing about the summit is that it’s about empowering youth,” said Amanda Mortensen, project coordinator for No Limits. “We’re educating young people about current marketing tactics. When they see ads or attractive packaging, they understand that tobacco companies are trying to get them addicted so they have a lifelong customer.”
Armed with information, youth attending the summit can fight against big tobacco in their hometowns using activism approaches learned at the event.
No Limits Youth Board member Teal Timperley of Lynch, who attended her first summit in 2008, has organized events in her own community to deliver the No Limits message. “It’s about exposing and opposing tobacco companies,” said Timperley. “We’re trying to get their lies out so youth know about them, and know what’s bad about Big Tobacco.”
No Limits Youth Board co-chair Mackenzie Pickett of Blair said the No Limits message has helped some of her friends decide to quit using tobacco. The summit spreads that impact across the state. “It brings kids from all over Nebraska to support one cause,” said Pickett. “We meet a lot of new people and make new friends but we’re all here for one purpose — to fight Big Tobacco.
Mortensen said the summit exposes participants to a different kind of message. “They’ve heard about the health effects of tobacco use, but they might not know what the tobacco industry has done to hide that information and mislead the public,” said Mortensen. “We want youth to feel empowered and know that they can change the influence Big Tobacco has on Nebraska.”
For more information about No Limits or the group’s upcoming activities, visit www.NoLimitsNebraska.com or contact Mortensen at 866-FYI-TEEN (866-394-8336) or firstname.lastname@example.org.