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Letter to the Editor – Protecting Children From Tobacco

Protecting Children From Tobacco

Letter to the Editor

Editor:

When the county Board of Supervisors recently unanimously approved Supervisor Pam Slater’s proposal to develop an ordinance protecting youth from the dangers of Big Tobacco, they affirmed their commitment to the children of San Diego during what Supervisor Ron Roberts has declared, “The Year of the Child.”

The ordinance would reduce youth access to cigarettes and other deadly tobacco products and represents an important step in the battle to protect our kids. On behalf of the members of the Tobacco-Free Communities Coalition, I would like to thank the board for their leadership and dedication to public health.

According to the California Department of Health Services, 10,000 San Diego County teens begin smoking each year, and one-third of those teens will die from a tobacco-related illness.

However, statistics show that if someone does not begin smoking as a teen-ager, he or she likely never will. Therefore, the action taken by the board to reduce youth access to tobacco is a critical step in protecting San Diego’s children from the deadly addiction of tobacco use. As one teen-ager told board members, “If you can’t get a cigarette, you can’t smoke it.”

We have seen the board act in its capacity as a leader and role model in public health by investing all of the county’s master settlement agreement funds in health care and tobacco control. Passing a youth tobacco control ordinance will further illustrate their strong commitment to protecting the health of the kids of San Diego County.

Debra Kelley

(Editor’s note: Kelley is the vice president of government relations for the American Lung Association of San Diego and Imperial counties.)

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