Posted: May 12, 2013 6:07 PM CDT
By: Kayla Bremer
A local teen is recognized nationally for her fight against tobacco.
Lincoln High freshman Joanna Hejl was named the Central Region Youth Advocate of the Year in Washington D.C. for working to stop teens from smoking before they start in the first place.
“I got to meet with all the other winners and hear about all the amazing things they’re doing in their communities and across their states and so it was really interesting to get all those ideas,” Hejl said.
Joanna’s passion against tobacco started when she was 13.
This year, she started a club at Lincoln High to inform other teens about the dangers of smoking and deceptions of the tobacco industry.
“They market pretty much directly to youth like their candy flavored cigars and e–cigarettes…you know it’s new, it’s electronic, it’s different.”
The fight against smoking is something that runs in Joanna’s family. Before she became involved with No Limits Nebraska, her sister was also a member of the statewide movement against tobacco.
Her parents say they couldn’t be more proud.
“It’s good to see her project herself this way, get involved and do something positive and to see her become so articulate and able to stand her ground,” Katie and Gary Hejl said.
She’s planning to promote legislation to ensure that all cigars are regulated by the FDA and to increase the state tobacco tax in hopes to make it more difficult for people to afford.
“If teens can’t get to them, then the overall number of people that smoke goes down because 90 percent of people who smoke started before they were 18,” Joanna said.
She wants more teens to get involved. Her group at school will start up again next year for anyone that goes to Lincoln High, otherwise you can apply to join No Limits Nebraska.
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