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NC Department of Health and Human Services
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Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch

Youth Tobacco Use Prevention: Youth Empowerment and Tobacco Use Prevention

From November 1999 through July 2004, staff at North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services advanced its tobacco use prevention and control mission by establishing three youth-led tobacco use prevention centers across the state. The centers, named Question Why (?Y) provided a platform for project staff to foster youth-led tobacco use prevention planning and advocacy and to provide leadership development to participating youth. The centers were established in Wilmington, Durham and Asheville. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided in support of this project.

Youths at these regional centers worked with adult volunteers (often collaborating, too, with statewide or community stakeholders such as school or law enforcement staffs) to plan and carry out a varied program of tobacco use prevention, targeting the social environment of adolescents. Paid staff at each center included a full-time project coordinator and five or six trained teen advocates working at least three afternoons a week.

The project's youth centers continue to operate under a non-profit organization called YES! (Youth Empowered Solutions) external link.

YES! teen and adult staff now focus on providing training and technical assistance to organizations throughout the state engaged in teen empowerment and health issues.