Teen activists from across Montana will walk the red carpet to the sixth annual reACT Teen Summit June 21-23 at Carroll College in Helena to learn how policy change can make a big difference in the fight against tobacco.

The 2011 Hollywood-themed Teen Summit comes on the heels of a nationwide trend to get teens more involved in policy change. Smoking in movies, for example, has been linked to youth tobacco initiation.

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to onscreen smoking in movies increases the probability that youths will start smoking.

reACT member Olivia Holter attends the teen summit every year. “I’m excited to be back for my sixth Summit,” said Olivia Holter, reACT member. “This year, I can’t wait to work on a new policy that I can take back and implement with my own reACT group‚ plus, I get to share ideas with other teens from all over Montana.”

reACT is Montana‚ statewide teen-led movement that empowers teens to fight back against commercial tobacco use. reACT is funded by the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program of DPHHS.

Teens at the Summit can choose from several policy issues that interest them. Other topics include tobacco-free parks, point-of-purchase advertising and tobacco ad placement in magazines. They also get to spend time learning about the issue, planning, and implementing the first steps of their policy change.

“This week, we’ll arm teens with everything they need to go back to their communities and start taking action,” reACT’s Youth Empowerment Coordinator Erin Kintop said. “From tobacco-free parks to smoking in movies, there are so many issues teens can tackle on the ground level.”

Interactive sessions will give teens tools to support policy work. The sessions will focus on meeting with decision makers, collaborating with other groups, garnering earned media, building support and training spokespersons.

Mike Leach, a naturalist and motivational speaker from Yellowstone County, will coach teens about youth policy and activism. In addition, a team of trainers well-versed in tobacco policy have traveled from all over the country to work with the reACT program.

Here is a link to the great movie from last year’s teen summit: reactmt.com/index.php?page=summit2010video

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