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Graham initiative targets teen smoking

OGDEN -- Utah Attorney General Jan Graham said Wednesday that smoking and cigarettes could be banned in this country in 20 years because of the dangerous effects they are having on society.

Talking to Utah Boy's State participants at Weber State University, Graham said her office has come up with a campaign to help stop teenagers from getting into the habit of smoking.The program, entitled "Pack of Lies, How Big Tobacco Targets America's Kids," states in a pamphlet that most teens who start smoking become addicted to the drug, that advertising tobacco influences teens to start smoking, that smoking affects a person's growth, and that cigarettes contain some of the same chemicals found in nail polish remover, toilet bowel cleaner, car exhaust, swamp gas and embalming fluid.

" 'Pack of Lies' exposes the strategy behind 40 years of big tobacco's advertising campaigns," said Graham. "Through television, movies, magazines and other methods. the tobacco industry has flooded society with images that portray smoking as cool, exciting, fun and even healthy.

"If nothing is done to change the positive image of smoking in America, the tobacco companies will continue to profit at the expense of our children as another generation becomes addicted to their deadly products."

Graham showed a video that her office put together to help campaign against teenage smoking. The video is free and available to community groups.

Graham says in the video that the tobacco industry spends $6 billion a year to advertise its product. She says smoking is more difficult to "shake" than heroin and that the tobacco industry targets youths today to make billions of dollars.

During her speech, she told the Boys State participants that tobacco-related sicknesses is this country's number one killer. Graham said that 1,100 people in Utah die each year from tobacco-related illnesses, 500,000 nationwide.

Every year, 8,000 teens will start smoking in Utah and one-third of those will die from it, Graham said. About 90 percent of tobacco-addicted adults started smoking while they were teenagers.

After Graham's presentation, Boys Staters were allowed to give their input about teen smoking.

One boy said that police and school officials should start coming down hard on kids who smoke on or around the school. Another youth said that teens may start smoking because they get bored and need more clean entertainment in their communities.

One high school student recommended that the elementary DARE program continue throughout middle school and high school, while another boy said that parents need to get more involved with their children to prevent them from smoking.