Quash teen smoking

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Just when I thought that smoking was out of fashion, I was shocked to find out how trendy it had become again, and how many of my kids’ friends smoke cigarettes. I am a mother of three teenagers here in Malibu and when my youngest became involved with the Alliance to Keep Kids Tobacco Free at MHS, I was completely stunned to find out how easy it is in this small community for our teens to buy cigarettes. Of the 16 stores in Malibu that sell tobacco products, six sold cigarettes to the underage girls involved with the Alliance. Nine out of ten smokers begin using tobacco products before age 18 and the average teen smoker begins at age 13. Knowing how easy it is for teens to access tobacco in our community really irritates me

What the Alliance is trying to do is pass laws, like a Tobacco Retail Licensing Policy, which have been proven effective at reducing youth access to tobacco products in other cities. Studies have proven that when stores are faced with strong reinforcements, such as fines and license fees, selling tobacco products to teens significantly decreases, bringing about a dramatic reduction in teen smoking. We need to make a commitment to put this strategy into place. These programs pay for themselves through fines and license fees. It is time that our community leaders hold the storeowners accountable. Neglecting this issue is not acceptable, especially when it comes to the health of our teens.

I am not naive and I know that there is no single magic bullet that will prevent all teens from taking up smoking. I also know that such laws do not eliminate the chances of teens getting cigarettes, however evidence suggests that they may make it a lot harder for teens to take that first puff.

The next Alliance to Keep Kids Tobacco Free meeting is on Thursday, June 16, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the MHS Library. Any questions, call Debra Levi at 818-301-6311 or email her at dlevi@valleyclinic.org. We hope to see you all there to discuss this important community issue.

Stacy Clunies-Ross