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FUSD Students Help Pass Tobacco 21

Tobacco 21, an ordinance that prohibits the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to those under the age of 21, passed unanimously in the City of Flagstaff on July 2nd, 2019, with the help of many organizations, including students at Flagstaff and Coconino high schools.  Arizona Students Aiming for Prevention (ASAP) and Coconino Anti-Tobacco Students (CATS) first introduced Tobacco 21 to Flagstaff City Council back in December of 2017. ASAP and CATS have worked tirelessly with City Council, held meetings with key stakeholders, sent out community surveys, attended trainings, and presented in front of the Flagstaff Unified School District Governing Board, all as an effort to improve the health and well-being of the youth in Flagstaff. 


The Tobacco 21 coalition, included ASAP and CATS in addition to Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) and the Coconino County Health and Human Services Tobacco and Chronic Disease Prevention Program. Tiffany Kerr from the Coconino County Health and Human Services Tobacco and Chronic Disease Prevention Program has helped lead students at Coconino High School involved in CATS, while Tenillya Cody from NACA has helped lead students at Flagstaff High School involved in ASAP. 


“First and foremost I am super proud of the work CATS and ASAP have done throughout the course of their coalition existence,” shares Tiffany Kerr, “They are making a tremendous impact on the health and wellbeing of their community”


“We know tobacco prevention and control will help reduce tobacco use, delay initiation, and reduce the normalization of tobacco use. By implementing Tobacco 21, I believe it will make a major impact on our community and the populations we serve, specifically youth and adolescence.”

Tobacco 21’s goal is to limit the accessibility of these products for students, delaying the initiation and addiction that comes with use. As less students use these products, the norm of these products will also change, positively affecting those at the elementary and middle school level who look up to high schoolers. Along with the restrictions put in place with Tobacco 21, these groups aim to educate the community on the difference between traditional and commercial use of tobacco. 


“We try to focus on educating the differences between traditional and commercial uses of tobacco, especially since my group is Native American,” says Tenillya Cody, “Smoking and vaping is ultimately abusing the traditional view of tobacco. Traditional use of tobacco is not done in a recreational way, there is a specific purpose behind it.” 


Another goal of ASAP and CATS is to educate the 29 other anti-tobacco coalitions in the state, since many of the other groups do not have Native American representation. 


The next steps for ASAP and CATS are to work with city council and key stakeholders to construct a tobacco retail license that retailers will have to obtain within 60 days of implementation. After finalizing Flagstaff’s Tobacco 21 retail license, they hope to continue working toward implementation of Tobacco 21 statewide, joining 16 other states that have already done so.