An activist with Border City roots has been honoured for his work fighting tobacco. Dustin Snider, an Environmental Science student at the University of Lethbridge, has been awarded a Barb Tarbox Award for Excellence in Tobacco Reduction.
Snider first began advocating for tobacco reduction in 2012. In grade 7 at the time, Snider joined the Lloyd Flavour…Gone! Team to fight flavoured tobacco products. He continued to support Flavour… Gone! initiatives until Bill 206 was introduced to remove flavoured tobacco products. Snider got the chance to meet with his MLA, Dr. Richard Starke.
Snider also helped spread awareness about chewing tobacco at a Bobcats game by dressing in coloured morphsuits. Sixteen students from E.S. Laird Middle School joined at the event also writing letters to MLAs asking for protection from tobacco industry marketing. Snider also researched tobacco, vaping and cannabis bylaws and advocated for the reduction of tobacco, vaping and cannabis use and sale in public spaces. Snider eventually joined the Lloydminster Youth Council and continued to push for tobacco reduction.
On June 11, 2018, Lloydminster took the step of becoming Alberta’s first city to ban the smoking and vaping of any substance in all public gathering places including parks, public events, and commercial property. The Lloydminster bylaw aims to protect children and youth from exposure to smoking, vaping and the public consumption of cannabis. Receiving a Barb Tarbox award, Snider is proud of all the work he’s put in.
“Knowing that my efforts as a youth voice contributed to the changing of legislation, and just bringing awareness to the issues, that’s just a cool piece to know that my voice was heard,” says Snider.
Now a university student, Snider doesn’t anticipate his career will involve any advocacy for smoking and vaping reduction. However, Snider still sees the work he’s done reducing tobacco as a passion of is. He also sees room for improvement on campus; currently, there are cannabis smoking spaces at the University of Lethbridge that he says he’d like to see gone.
“That’s a big thing that I think the University of Lethbridge has taken quite a step back from what they had going before. That’s definitely something to look at in the future,” says Snider. He adds that legislation around vaping is in his opinion too lenient. Right now, he sees far too many vaporizer stores that he’d like like to see more regulated.
“I think vaping is a big contributor to tobacco use, cause they don’t understand the dangers of vaping as well. It’s quite a false understanding in many youths that vaping doesn’t harm you in any way, which is completely untrue. Vaping has just as much harm as other kinds of tobacco, especially as a gateway, leading into smoking for example.”
Snider hopes to see action from the next generation to educate the dangers of tobacco use and fight for legislation to restrict it.