Central Valley Youth – Power and Action!

The California Health Collaborative’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) Presents at Dinuba City Council.


September 14, 6:30 pm, Dinuba, CA. As Central California communities mobilize to combat youth vaping, smoking, and commercial tobacco use, some of the most powerful voices in this effort are coming from the youth themselves. For a seasoned professional standing in front of and presenting to elected officials, can be intimidating. To do so takes a lot of preparation, planning, and practice. It also takes confidence, setting-up a persuasive argument, and just plain fearlessness. On September 14, The California Health Collaborative’s (CHC) Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) team did all of that and more. Surrounded by a sizable group of audience members including adult advocates from the CHC, the Tulare County Tobacco-Free Coalition, and community project’s such as the Red Medicine Tobacco Prevention Project, the YEP’s Carissa Contreras (Youth Coordinator), Isabelle Torres (18 years-old), and Viviana Contreras (19 years-old) presented a compelling case to the Dinuba City Council to introduce and adopt a tobacco retail licensing policy and a tobacco flavor ban policy. All three YEP team members shared their perspectives and personal experiences with commercial tobacco harms to their family, friends, and community. Seeing their peers using vaping and flavored tobacco products and becoming at risk for nicotine addiction inspired them to standup and speak-up for change. From the YEP presentation and with supportive comments from other city officials, such as the Chief of Police, the Dinuba City Council agreed to consider a future policy to restrict, or ban vape and flavored products. The Red Medicine Project was happy to interview the YEP team right after this incredible achievement and has captured their thoughts and feelings about their work.

YEP – Snapshot: Carissa shared a brief background on YEP - “Is a group of youth advocates from the City of Dinuba working on a campaign designed to significantly reduce or eliminate youth access to tobacco products at retail stores. Through this program, YEP provides training on policy advocacy and action planning that support tobacco prevention efforts. YEP began in 2020 with only three member and has since grown to include 15 youth advocates. With the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products, YEP members are on a mission to increase awareness about these dangerous products and work with their elected officials to protect Dinuba youth through the adoption of a tobacco retail licensing policy.”


Listen to the full interview:


The Red Medicine Tobacco Prevention Project looks forward to joining our Native Star youth with the YEP team in the future for more youth led community action and youth empowerment event