My Experience at the No Minor Sale Tobacco Products Act Press Conference
My name is Aracely Flores-Ramirez and I’m a senior at Valencia High School in Los Lunas. This is my second year with the Evolvement program here in New Mexico and my first year on the leadership team. I have also advocated for tobacco control policy with the American Cancer Society: Cancer Action Network for over four years. Keeping my generation from becoming addicted to tobacco has always been a priority to me. That is why I was so excited when the Tobacco Products Act was signed into law and I got the opportunity to speak at a press conference celebrating it.
An Evolvement peer and I prepared for weeks to deliver our introductory presentation at the No Minor Sale Press Conference which was live streamed on No Minor Sale’s Facebook page. We started by answering some questions about what tobacco retail licensing meant to us and our communities. Then, over the course of several meetings, we crafted those responses into talking points for our presentation. Finally, the day came for us to turn on the webcam and deliver our speech. I was so nervous about stuttering or saying the wrong thing. Thankfully, my practice kicked in and as soon as I started speaking, the words came naturally. I felt so proud to be sharing a virtual stage with lawmakers to celebrate a policy that I had a part in making a reality.
The No Minor Sale Campaign has advocated for ending the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors. We have made a huge step towards this goal by enacting statewide Tobacco Retail Licensing, which ensures that all tobacco retail stores acquire a license to sell tobacco products. This is so important for the future of my generation because it will limit the number of places that youth can illegally purchase tobacco products. In turn, leading to lower tobacco-related health issues for my peers. As a student who is involved in policy, I have gained the skills to better the world around me and a passion for helping others get involved in public policy.
This press conference gave me the opportunity to reflect on why the work No Minor Sale does is so important. Getting to speak about the Tobacco Products Act helped me understand the exact way in which it will safeguard the health of New Mexicans going into the future. It is critical that we keep the momentum going and advocate for more policies that will limit tobacco sales to minors. Every single action adds up to make a big impact.