It all started with cigarettes and ended with heroin, which changed the ratio of a happy childhood Gabe Glissmeyer together with his older sister.
The habit led her to search for new friends who encouraged her to try substances. Soon, the girl who Glissmeyer spent the afternoon in the park with was not the one he trusts more.
“We were best friends. She started smoking and all our friends, and all were destroyed,” said Glissmeyer. “The fact that tobacco has done in his life that led to her getting addicted to heroin. There have been many cases in which it will choose to get high or smoke over to hang out with me.”
Sister Glissmeyer recently marked two years living clean and sober. But the experience of its dependence Glissmeyer inspired to reach out to encourage other teens to avoid the lure of tobacco addiction.
He created “smoke out” Utah Pride Center program is designed to help young people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to quit smoking. At the meetings, Glissmeyer and his colleagues are working to change social norms, “smoking is cool,” he said.
Glissmeyer was also chairman of the Young Leaders of the Utah Youth Tobacco Control Program “One Good Reason,” where he worked on an initiative called “It’s all about packaging.” It is aimed at teaching young people about how the tobacco industry targets them.
“One Good Reason” program offers access to its website, www.onegoodreason.net, where teens share their stories about the pressure to start smoking and how they have found different reasons to quit smoking. The site offers an artist contest, a line of hip clothing and features of different groups.
Glissmeyer efforts from both programs have led to it was called the National Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids “Youth Advocate of the Year” honor he received at a recent gala in Washington, DC
“Gabe Glissmeyer and other young leaders from around the country making great strides in the fight against tobacco, and their voices are heard,” said Matthew L. Myers, President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Young leaders like Gabe play an important role in preventing children from smoking and reducing the terrible toll of tobacco in our country.”
According to campaign statistics, 8.5 percent of high school in Utah smoke students and about 1,500 children under the age of 18 years and younger has become daily smokers every year.
Tobacco is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 1,200 people of Utah every year and it costs the state about $ 345 million in health care, the assessment procedure.
Along with his experience with his sister, Glissmeyer was inspired to work on tobacco control policy when he took part in gay pride events, when someone suggested that he “can not be gay” because he does not smoke. He learned that some advocates believe LGBT young people are particularly susceptible to marketing ploys of the tobacco industry, a trend that wants to turn back.
Glissmeyer graduate from high school on Tuesday and plans to continue his work as an advocate for tobacco control. He has worked with legislators to get the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act amended to include electronic cigarettes as the items not permitted for use in the room.
He will begin college at the University of Utah next fall, with hopes of one day attending medical school.
He said he hopes people can learn to find their own reasons for the suppression of cigarettes.
“Everyone has one, whether your kids or your dog has a health issue,” said Glissmeyer. “Everyone has a reason to be tobacco-free.”