“As I saw my friends and classmates becoming addicted to e-cigarettes, I realized that my voice, as a young person, mattered. By advocating and educating based on my experiences, I was able to bring about meaningful policy change to protect my generation’s public health and stem the tide of the e-cig epidemic.”
Deeply impacted by stories of family members who died from smoking-induced illnesses, Abe Baker-Butler took comfort in his peers’ strong anti-cigarette stance, knowing they would never suffer from the same addiction. However, once in high school, the prevalence of e-cigarettes took hold of his friends’ despite their previous anti-nicotine sentiments. Abe took matters into his own hands and co-founded Students Against Nicotine (SAN), which works to reduce and eradicate teen vaping through legislative advocacy and education in New York State. SAN has connected with thousands of New York teens through peer-to-peer education, webinars, rallies, and conferences. In 2019, Abe helped pass Tobacco 21 legislation, raising the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. Most recently, SAN helped ban the use of flavors in e-cigarettes across New York State. Abe plans on expanding SAN’s reach by developing a local chapter model to be replicated across the country.