VOICE, Indiana’s statewide youth empowerment program, and the Indiana Department of Health hosted a Youth Day of Action Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse to highlight actions that can be taken to lessen the impact commercial tobacco products have on young Hoosiers.

Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver, MD, FACEP, peer educators, and youth advocates from around the state were in attendance.

Local VOICE groups and young people from across Indiana came together at the Statehouse to “Link Up” (the theme of the day) with their local representatives and other adult advocates to work towards preventing youth tobacco use.

Each VOICE group brought paper links that they collected, and each link served as a pledge from youth in their communities. Red links represent the hope that they or a loved one will commit to a tobacco and nicotine-free life; White links represent a pledge to live tobacco-free; and finally, Blue links help collect stories of how young people made a difference in their community.

“Being a part of VOICE has enabled me to see the impacts of an inspiring peer-to-peer movement. I’ve seen how I can make a difference by engaging, educating, and empowering my peers, not only in my school but also in my community.” Drew Jeffries from the Porter County VOICE group said. “Small scale action can immensely build up over time to make a difference. Through VOICE, we can make a huge impact on the world.”

Youth advocates shared a few factors that make young Hoosiers more vulnerable, including aggressive commercial tobacco marketing tactics, flavored products such as menthol, and the increased amount of nicotine in modern vaping products.