National Association of Attorneys General
Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation
I sent a message to the attorney general community in August urging my colleagues to support an important re-launch of the American Legacy Foundation’s truth® campaign, a national tobacco prevention counter-marketing campaign for youth and young adults. It provides young people with facts and information about the health and social consequences of tobacco and the marketing tactics of the industry that sells it, so that they can make informed decisions about its use. Developed from extensive formative research with young people, truth presents its life-saving public health messages in the form of a brand that young people can affiliate with instead of tobacco brands. With the launch of the new FINISH IT campaign, truth is taking its outreach to the next level and reaching all young people using television, online and social platforms and asking them to be the generation that finally ends the tobacco epidemic. While youth smoking rates have dropped to their lowest levels in 22 years, the facts remain that nine percent of teens still smoke and nearly all lifetime smokers have their first cigarette by age 18.
As a board member to the American Legacy Foundation with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, and recently appointed as vice-chair to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Tobacco Committee, I was ready, willing and able to do my part in taking up this cause in my state as well. On Aug. 24, I joined my neighbor to the west, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in Chicago to raise the alarm and promote the Legacy message. The Illinois Poison Center was host and we were joined by Legacy representatives, field experts and teen advocates to spread the message.
On Aug. 25, we took the message to my home state, where I joined Indiana High School students involved with VOICE, Indiana’s youth movement against tobacco companies working to eliminate the use of all tobacco products. We created a public forum where teens spoke out about how they were going to advocate for the FINISH IT campaign. This forum was also attended by Indiana’s State Health commissioner and Legacy representatives. Click here for a link to a news article that covered the event and here for copy of my office’s news release.
The goal for both of the events was to bring awareness to the tobacco epidemic and highlight Legacy’s new FINISH IT campaign, which has the same goal in mind – to end youth smoking for good. The teen advocates played a huge roll in each event as they spoke as to why this issue is important to them.
We also supported Legacy by following their social media movement. After all, the best way to reach young people is through the palm of their hands! We followed, tweeted and retweeted posts to help spread the message. I did notice NAAG and several other states have done the same – thank you Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson for your support in this cause.
Again, I encourage attorneys general to spread the message in your own state by doing whatever it is that you can to help. Whether that be by reaching out to tobacco-focused youth groups in your state, joining local health officials to help spread the message, or simply supporting the movement through your social media accounts.