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State Agencies Aim to Reduce Youth Tobacco Consumption and Sales

Thursday, March 24, 2011 | 08:10am
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health (TDMH), along with the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH), and the Tennessee Department of Education - Office of Coordinated School Health, have teamed up with the Oasis Center, STARS, Nashville Prevention Partnership, and school districts across the state to reduce the sale and consumption of tobacco to youth. 
 
Kick Butts Day, which will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, is a national event that works to engage thousands of children and youth nationwide through a day of activism against tobacco use. In Tennessee, youth have spent the past month working on “Lives Cut Short,” a statewide art project consisting of decorating pairs of shorts in honor of Tennesseans who had their lives cut short due to tobacco use. The results of the project will be compiled by Nashville artist Andee Rudloff and will be displayed on Kick Butts Day at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville.   
 
“Kick Butts Day is a great day to remind tobacco retailers not to sell cigarettes to youth as it can lead to a lifetime of smoking addiction,” said TDMH Commissioner Doug Varney. “Research has shown that the younger an individual starts smoking the stronger the addiction.”
 
The Tennessee Youth Prevention Work Group, comprised of staff from TDMH, TDOH, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, has been working over the past year to educate and remind Tennessee tobacco retailers of both the health and legal risks associated with selling tobacco to minors. Without sufficient success, Tennessee stands to lose important prevention and treatment dollars in Tennessee due to the Synar Amendment, a federal regulation covering youth access to tobacco laws.
 
“By selling tobacco products only to customers over 18, tobacco merchants help ensure that Tennessee complies with the law and reduces the overall number of youth smokers,” Attorney General Bob Cooper said.
 
Facts from www.tobaccofreekids.org about Tennessee youth and tobacco:
 
   Most individuals with an addiction to cigarettes started smoking before they turned 18 years old. 
   Tennesseans under the age of 18 will purchase and consume over 19.3 million packs of cigarettes this year. 
   Approximately 7,100 young people in Tennessee become new youth smokers each year. 
   Approximately 412,000 of today’s Tennessee children will become smokers and nearly 132,000 of them will die prematurely from tobacco related causes. 
 
The Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), is a statewide, free tobacco cessation program made possible through the TDOH. There is no charge to callers for services, and callers have unlimited access to a quit coach through the QuitLine. Call to learn more about the QuitLine or visit the website at http://health.state.tn.us/tobaccoquitline.htm.
 
For more information on Kick Butts Day, or to find a list of events in your area, please visit http://kickbuttsday.org/. For more facts and information about Tennessee or other states, please visit http://www.tobaccofreekids.org
 
 

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