He can be credited today with launching a campaign that led to one of the most publicly debated issues in the City of Lubbock's history and he's only 13. Amit Bushan is the young boy who spearheaded the 'Stop Smoking in Restaurants' or STIR campaign, which ultimately led to a smoking ban in most public places.
Amit is proof that small people can accomplish big things. While his anti-smoking crusade is still garnering national attention, Amit has moved on to even bigger things.
The walls of Amit's bedroom look more like someone's office walls. Decked out with awards for a lifetime's worth of accomplishments. But all this, is the result of just 13 years of life.
It was this teenagers anti-smoking campaign in 2001, that convinced city council to study the health hazards of second hand smoke. Council eventually passed an ordinance banning smoking. Amit's motivation, inspired by his life-long struggle with asthma.
When the city's new smoking ban was challenged and put to a public vote in May of 2002, the public overwhelmingly voted to keep the ban 64% to 36%. Since then, Amit has been featured in National Geographic for Kids, several newspaper articles and a book about Asthma for teens. "I'm kind of surprised and definitely honored by all of this," says Amit.
Perhaps his proudest moment, an awards ceremony in the White House rose garden and a hand shake from President George W. Bush, for outstanding achievement in protecting public health. "He said, 'Oh, it's my fellow Texan.' And then he looked at my last name and said, 'Hey, if you take off the a-n, we could be brothers'," says Busan.
Now, Amit is out to tackle even more tough issues. He's currently working on a campaign to bring more awareness to national teacher's day. And, as we speak he's off at camp. A Duke University talent camp that only accepts the best and the brightest each year. As a 7th grader, Amit scored an exceptional 660 on the Math portion of the SAT. The national average among high school seniors is a 516.
But, Amit says all that he's accomplished can be accomplished by any kid with big dreams. "It doesn't just have to be for a smoking ordinance. That would be nice too, but I'm hoping this will show kids that no matter how small you are, you can make a difference in your community," says Amit.
Amit will be in the 8th grade next year at Hutchinson Junior High. Since the smoking ban, he's given a few seminars on teaching kids about how to tackle tough community issues. He also educates other kids about the harmful effects of tobacco products.