Youth tobacco use prevention discussed at AG's conference

Portland hosts attorneys general tobacco conference

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The National Association of Attorneys General held its triennial conference Tuesday at the Westin Hotel in Portland to discuss ways to prevent youth smoking.

Attorney's general and public health officials heard presentations from a variety of different speakers, many of whom focused on young adult smoking and how the tobacco products are marketed.

Maine's attorney general, Janet Mills, is the co-chair of the NAAG's tobacco committee.

"You've got to wonder, what's the purpose of all that marketing? Why are they trying to get kids hooked?" Mills said. "Anybody I know who's addicted to smoking wants to quit."

In 1998, Maine and 45 other states became eligible for cash payments from tobacco companies in exchange for the states dropping lawsuits that sought to recover costs the states incurred in treating tobacco-related illnesses, through the Tobacco Master Resettlement Agreement.

Mills said the state takes in $52 million a year for the Fund for a Healthy Maine. About 50 percent of that money goes toward anti-smoking programs, such as ads. "We want to use that stream of money to help people quit those habits so they can lead happy, healthy lives," she said.

The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new challenge is preventing kids from trying other forms of nicotine, such as e-cigarettes or vaping.

"The fact that most of us have grown up knowing that smoking is a bad thing really does speak to the efficacy of advertising and social marketing," said Maine CDC COO Sheryl Peavey.

Peavey said many of the places that are smoke-free may soon become vape-free, too.

"The air that people are breathing here is the kind of air and reminds people that this is the best place to live," she said.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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