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West Valley City Journal

Youth Council Hunt for Healthy Lifestyles

Jul 15, 2016 09:26AM ● By Bryan Scott

The West Valley City Council passed a resolution on May 10 supporting the youth city council’s efforts to increase awareness among the youth of West Valley City. —Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

West Valley City Council passes lots of resolutions, but not many come from the youth.

On May 10, the West Valley City Council passed a resolution supporting the Youth City Council on their efforts to educate their peers on the dangers of electronic cigarette usage.

“It was great to be able to talk to them about this and explain why we felt strongly about this,” Chris Cox, Youth City Council Mayor of West Valley City, said.

Work towards the resolution spawned from Cox last year when he said he wanted to do something to combat cigarette and drug use among teens.

“I felt it was a problem we had in the schools and it wasn’t being addressed as it should’ve been,” Cox said.

Jelena Dragicevic, member of the Youth City Council and a freshman at Granger High, said kids her age often rationalize the usage of e-cigarettes by saying it’s not as dangerous as normal cigarettes.

“It’s still addictive, you can’t be using the excuse that it’s not addictive when the main ingredient is still nicotine,” Dragicevic said.

Studies done by the Center for Disease Control revealed that 16 percent of high school and five percent of middle school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015.

It’s one of the reason why the Youth City Council is anxious to talk to the schools during the coming school year about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

“I’d like to see the council going into the school, working with student body officers and be able to talk to the students about the harmful effects and the dangers we’ve seen with e-cigarettes and hopefully be able to convince a few how dangerous they are,” Cox said.

Dragicevic said the Youth Council would like to create something for both Hunter and Granger High Schools like red ribbon week but about e-cigarettes.

Nelson Lotz, Deputy Mayor of the Youth City Council, presented the resolution during the city council meeting on May 13.

“The Youth City Council has decided to try to educate the public and to gain [the city council’s] support in this endeavor so we can really reach out to the youth and let them know of this health hazard,” Lotz said to the City Council.

Cox, who graduated from Hunter High in May, said having the resolution passed by the city council will give more credibility to their words.

“It gives us more weight to work with the schools,” Cox said.

Cox had the opportunity to speak to the city council during their study meeting and Dragicevic said being recognized by Mayor Ron Bigelow during the meeting was a great experience.

“When someone with that much authority recognizes a group and us as kids and students who are active in our schools is just awesome,” Dragicevic said.

“I think it’s a good resolution and something where we can fully support the Youth City Council in these efforts to educate the students in West Valley City,” Councilman Donald Christensen said before motioning to pass the resolution at the city council meeting.

Cox and Dragicevic said they hope this resolution will give them the chance to help other teenagers avoid the pitfalls of addiction and improve their futures, even if it’s only one person.

 “If they don’t vape and don’t go down that path and get addicted to nicotine, that’ll help their kids and benefit their future,” Cox, said. “It’s the idea of being able to help that one, whoever it may be.”

Targeting the younger generation with e-cigarettes, Dragicevic said, as a safer alternative of smoking is saddening.

“It gets me irritated because I’m sick and tired of people worrying about making a profit off of ruining someone else’s health,” Dragicevic said. “And that’s why I was passionate about passing this resolution and stopping e-cig use at school.”

Both Cox and Dragicevic said they’ve seen and heard many of their peers smoking. Cox, who plans to be a history teacher, said teenagers shouldn’t be getting addicted to nicotine at such an age.

“It becomes so addictive that they can’t even focus in school and that’s all they’re worrying about,” Dragicevic said. “It’s sad kids aren’t focused on their futures and their education but worried about…the wrong stuff.”