WASHINGTON, May 11, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Tyra Nicolay, 17, of Shiprock, N.M., has been named the West Region Youth Advocate of the Year for the second consecutive year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tyra was honored for her leadership in the fight against tobacco Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids logo. (PRNewsFoto/Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids)

Tyra used e-cigarettes as a high school freshman, lured by candy flavors and unaware of potential health effects. After learning about nicotine addiction and how e-cigarettes are marketed to entice kids, Tyra joined youth advocacy group Evolvement New Mexico and became an advocate against all tobacco use. In December, Tyra shared her story nationally when she introduced then-U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy at the release of the first Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarettes and youth. Tyra also works to reduce tobacco use in the Navajo Nation, partnering with council members to increase the price of tobacco products and raise the tobacco sale age to 21. A senior at Navajo Preparatory School, Tyra will attend Stanford University this fall.

«We are thrilled to again honor Tyra as our West Region Youth Advocate of the Year,» said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. «Young leaders like Tyra are standing up to the tobacco industry, inspiring their peers to be tobacco-free and encouraging elected officials to take action. They are helping create the first tobacco-free generation.»

Over 400 public health, business, civic and political leaders attended the Youth Advocates of the Year awards ceremony to recognize Tyra and other youth advocates from across the country. The winners received scholarships to continue their tobacco prevention efforts and will serve as youth ambassadors for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 480,000 Americans and costing the nation $170 billion in health care bills each year. Tobacco kills 6 million people worldwide each year.

In New Mexico, tobacco use claims 2,600 lives and costs $844 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 11.4 percent of New Mexico’s high school students smoke and 24 percent use e-cigarettes.

Additional information about the youth award winners and the toll of tobacco can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids