Hundreds of Iowa kids are attending the fifth annual Youth Tobacco Summit this week at Drake University in Des Moines. Thomas Oldham is president of the student-run anti-smoking organization JEL or “Just Eliminate Lies”- which he says has had a record turn-out. Oldham says about 600 teenagers are attending this years summit from across the state, to “enact policy change, and get lawmakers to act responsible and work for the youth of Iowa on Tobacco control related issues.” Oldham says this year’s theme for the summit is “Time’s Up.” Oldham says the time is up and lawmakers need to act. He says lawmakers need do things like raise the tobacco tax and raise funding for tobacco control programs like JEL in to order to “save lives and make a difference in Iowa.” The current tax on a pack of cigarettes is 36 cents and Oldham says JEL hopes to push up by one dollar a pack tax. Iowa generates one hundred-and-forty-nine million dollars each year from tobacco revenue. Oldham says JEL gets a small portion of that money yearly, but has put it to good use.Oldham says with only five million dollars “JEL is a shinning star” and have proved what they can do by decreasing the percent of high schoolers smoking by 13-percent. Oldham says along with decreasing smoking in high schools, JEL promotes activism in the state and teaches teens how to make a difference in their community. The fifth annual Youth Tobacco summit began Tuesday and runs through tomorrow.
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