Paris Teen Tackles Big Tobacco and Wins Advocacy Award

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LEXINGTON HERALD LEADER | LASHANA HARNEY | JUNE 1, 2015

Tyler Boyle seems like the average Bourbon County High School senior. He’s applying to college, preparing for graduation, participating in extracurricular activities and keeping up with school work.

He’s also fighting big tobacco. And being recognized for it.

This spring, Boyle was named the South Region Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Boyle applied for the award himself in hopes of bringing more attention to the anti-tobacco cause in his community of Paris. Boyle is president of the Students Making A Change in the Community group which is on the forefront of fighting for a smoke-free ordinance in Paris.

“I applied for this award because of all of the work that I’ve done in my home community and state for tobacco control,” he said. “I thought that if I could make national attention, maybe, it would make the officials in my community take this issue more seriously.”

Boyle attended an awards gala in Washington, D.C., in mid-May.

As part of the award, Boyle is required to attend a symposium sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in Washington in July and the Philip Morris International shareholder meeting next May.

“The campaign encourages the award winners to keep up tobacco control and be advocates for what we are passionate about,” Boyle said.

Boyle became involved with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in 2013 after attending the 10th annual youth advocacy symposium in Washington.

“I’ve always had a problem with tobacco because my grandmother died when I was 4 from lung cancer,” said Boyle.

Winning the award has been an honor, Boyle said.

“It feels amazing that I won,” he said. “It just goes to show that all of the hard work that I’ve been putting in for so long has finally paid off.”

Although Boyle said some times he is frustrated with the fight because change is slow to take place, the will to keep pushing forward always comes back.

“After attending the award gala, I was revitalized and I’m ready for the next step in tobacco control,” he said.

This fall, Boyle will attend Vassar College to study political science with a focus on advocacy work. He plans to continue his work with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, he said.

“Tobacco advocacy is something near to my heart,” Boyle said. “Vassar is actually going smoke free in July 2015. So, I plan to work hard to implement and support their new policy.”