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New alliance formed to strengthen tobacco control policies

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FILE – This March 28, 2019, file photo shows cigarette butts in an ashtray in New York. Moving company U-Haul has a new hiring policy and smokers need not apply. Starting this month the company will screen out people who use tobacco or nicotine when making new hires in certain U.S. states. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

Lansing, Mich. —

A new statewide alliance has launched to combat Michigan’s growing youth tobacco epidemic.

“Use of tobacco products by young people is unacceptably high and the Keep MI Kids Tobacco Free Alliance is committed to changing this trend and working to protect our young people from a lifelong addiction,” said Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics in a press release.

The Keep MI Kids Tobacco Free includes more than 50 organizations that will work to revise Michigan’s tobacco control policies including:

·       Establishing a tobacco retail license, which will allow the state to create and maintain a list of retailers in the state who sell tobacco products and enforce retailer compliance.

·       Repealing purchase, use and possession (PUP) penalties on youth that shift responsibility for compliance away from retailers who profit from tobacco sales and instead target kids. PUP policies have not been shown to be effective in reducing youth tobacco use.

·       Strengthening Michigan’s age of sale laws with enforcement provisions that include regular compliance checks on all retailers, graduated fines resulting in licenses suspension and revocation for noncompliant retailers.

Michigan spends more than $4.5 billion annually on smoking-related health costs and nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths in Michigan are attributable to tobacco products, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in Michigan. Nationally e-cigarette use among high school students has increased by 135 percent in the last two years alone,” said Jodi Radke, regional director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Our alliance is committed to reversing this dangerous trend and protecting our kids’ futures.” 

The alliance includes several public health organizations and associations, hospital systems, community education groups and more. It is chaired by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Full alliance membership includes:

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