Spencer Flanders named Youth Advocate of the Year | RecordCourier.com

Spencer Flanders named Youth Advocate of the Year

Staff Reports
Michelle Tostes and Catia Villanueva from Las Vegas, Sen. Harry Reid, Spencer Flanders and Breanna Taylor during the Youth Advocacy Symposium in Washington D.C. last year.
Special to The R-C |

Spencer Flanders, 15, has been named the West Region Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for his leadership in the fight against tobacco.

Spencer was honored at a gala in the nation’s capital on May 15 along with a national winner, three other U.S. regional winners and a group winner.

Spencer is a sophomore at Douglas High School. He has been involved in fighting tobacco since the sixth grade through the group Students Taking on Prevention. He said he became passionate about the issue when he learned tobacco companies target young people like him, and he approaches anti-tobacco advocacy as a social justice issue.

Spencer was part of a team that encouraged smoke-free playgrounds by installing signs that read, “Young Lungs at Work, Please Don’t Smoke Here.” Their efforts effectively reduced cigarette litter. He is currently leading a campaign to encourage local businesses to institute smoke-free entrances.

More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders will attend the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ 18th annual gala in Washington, D.C., to recognize these young leaders. The winners will receive educational scholarships and grants to continue their prevention efforts. They also serve as ambassadors for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“We are thrilled to honor Spencer as our West Region Youth Advocate of the Year,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Young leaders like him are crucial in the fight to make tobacco history and end this epidemic for good. With their help, we can create the first tobacco-free generation.”

Without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease, according to the latest Surgeon General’s report on tobacco and health. That includes 41,000 children in Nevada alone.

In Nevada, tobacco use claims 3,500 lives and costs just over $1 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17 percent of the state’s high school students smoke. Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses each year.