A young Bismarck activist is being recognized nationally for her work. Madeline Erickson has been named Youth Advocate of the Year by the campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Smoking vapes has become a staple for popularity in schools all around the country, but Madeline Erickson is not your average high school student. Her goal is to see the first tobacco-free generation.

She is a member of the Bismarck Break Free Youth Board and helps to plan annual Youth Action Summits for tobacco prevention. Madeline hopes her work will encourage young adults to say “no to vaping”.

“I really just like to educate the youth and make sure they get all the facts because they are unfairly targeted by the tobacco industry,” explains Madeline.

Madeline has never smoked but she doesn’t mind educating her friends about the harmful effects of what their doing. She has held events like “Donut Day”, an event to remind kids at her school to “Donut Smoke and Vape!”

“Before vaping, we were seeing a decline in youth tobacco use. Youth don’t want a cig because they taste bad but when vapes came out they tasted good, had fun flavors, and they smelled good,” says Madeline.

Her mother, a respiratory specialist, always had an open conversation about smoking being bad. When she got to middle school, she didn’t like how commonly she saw peers doing it, so, she worked to protect the North Dakota Smoke-Free Law.

“Vaping, while you may not see lasting effects now, it will have lasting effects down the road and because it’s so new we don’t know what those are yet which is even more scary,” says Madeline.

Madeline continuously works with elected leaders to stand up to the tobacco industry. She says raising the tobacco age across North Dakota was a step in the right direction but there’s still work to be done.

As Youth Advocate of the Year, Madeline will receive scholarships to continue her tobacco prevention efforts.

Vaping has been marketed as unharmful water vapor by the tobacco industry and this is simply not true. Madeline reminds us that vaping can be as harmful as cigarettes or worse. Something as harmful as vaping, should not be a shortcut to popularity.

“If we were able to come together and say this may taste good but its bad for me and stop, the vaping industry and the tobacco industry overall would take a huge hit.”

Madeline will be honored tonight at the Tobacco-Free Kids’ Annual award show. You can watch the award show here at 6 p.m. EST.