Governor Murkowski Joins Teens Against Tobacco Use
April 14, 2004
According to information provided by the Office of the Governor, the rally was to support the Governor's proposed $1.00 per pack tobacco tax increase - HB 538 and SB 368. High school student and TATU member Kate Conway emceed the rally - and plugged the theme, "If You Must Smoke, Smoke Fish."
Other TATU members performed a skit and Clay Werthweimer roused the crowd with reasons why teenagers should make healthy choices and turn away from tobacco. "I don't have much money and I don't want to be spending it on tobacco," said Werthweimer to a crowd of approximately 60 teenagers and adults.
Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson added that a further drop in youth smoking rates of just 15 percent from current levels would translate into 1,800 lives saved from premature death due to tobacco addiction among Alaska high school students alive today.
"Today is a day to kick, kick, kick butts," said Murkowski to the teens. "You are young and, once you are old enough to purchase cigarettes, you have a choice to make. I want you to choose to not smoke."
Quoting a news release from the Governor's office, research has shown that increasing the cost of tobacco deters young people from smoking because they are less likely to be able to afford the habit. The Governor's tobacco tax increase of $1.00 per pack would raise $35.5 million for the general fund.
American Lung Association of Alaska Executive Director Christie Garbe led the crowd in a cheer and thanked the teens for their participation.
Teen attendees received free T-shirts and adults and youth alike were given "Kick Butts" stickers and offered smoked king salmon provided by the Alaska Seafood Company and Jerry's Meats of Juneau.
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