Paducah high school student receives award for anti-vaping advocacy

High school student receives award for anti-vaping advocacy

PADUCAH, Ky. (KFVS) - A Paducah high school student’s sharing her experience with e-cigarettes to prevent other kids from getting addicted.

“I tried it and instantly got hooked," said Abby Hefner.

Hefner said she first got a taste of vaping at a high school football game during her freshman year.

“They just said it was fun, it was water vapor, it just tasted like mint and might give me a little head rush, and I thought like that sounded like such a great idea at the time," she said.

According to Hefner, that one vape turned into an addiction

“Just immediately using it regularly. Every day. Every thirty minutes at least. Just having to have it and craving it all the time," she said.

More than one year after her first e-cigarette, she successfully quit vaping.

“I realized just truly just how harmful it was. And especially once you can look back and see how much you were using it after you quit, it just is eye opening for how awful it truly is," said Hefner.

Now a high school junior, she educates her peers at McCracken County High School and lawmakers in Washington D.C. about the dangers of vaping. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids also chose Hefner as a Youth Advocate of the Year.

“It’s a lot easier just to fade into the background and do what your peers are doing. What Abby instead chose to do, is to lead," said Matthew Myers, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President.

Hefner will receive a scholarship from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to continue her work to advocate against tobacco use.

“It’s young people like Abby who make a difference, who give us a cause, to believe that the future will be better than the present," said Myers.

Hefner said her message to high schoolers is don’t give into peer pressure.

“I know how it feels to be in the situation where everyone’s doing it, and it seems like it will make you cooler or fit in if you do it. But absolutely do not do it. It’s not something that teenagers should have to go through." she said.

Tobacco-Free Kids recognized Hefner at a virtual awards ceremony. She said she’s humbled someone from a small town in Kentucky can receive this national honor.

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