BTCD Personnel Updates

March 27, 2014


I am pleased to announce that Benjamin Palmer has accepted the position for the Tobacco Communications Program Manager for the Office of Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs.

Mr. Palmer has government institutional knowledge as well as public relations, marketing and communication knowledge and experience which spans over a four year time period. In his new position, Mr. Palmer serves as the primary contact for the Bureau of Tobacco & Chronic Disease (BTCD) contracted state media and marketing vendors to assist with development and implementation of social marketing strategies for the tobacco program, which includes the launch of BTCD’s youth coalition, Students Taking A New Direction (STAND), as well as BTCD’s cessation campaigns which include ASHLine media flights and new creative for cessation marketing campaigns. Ben also has experience with working across ADHS with multiple bureaus and has been responsible for working with the ADHS administration to develop and disseminate program-specific press and news releases highlighting and/or promoting events, initiatives and/or achievements.

In an era of streamlining our communications team amidst an expansion of activities in tobacco prevention and cessation, Ben has displayed superb performance and ability to work above standards in several areas, and has served at the core of our work in sustaining Arizona as a leader in tobacco control. It is with great pleasure that I am able to make this announcement.

Please help me in congratulating Ben in his new position. Thanks!!


Wayne Tormala, Chief
Arizona Department of Health Services
Bureau of Tobacco & Chronic Disease
150 N. 18th Avenue, Suite 310
Phoenix, Arizona  85007-2602 



Arizona among nation’s top cigarette-smuggling states

March 27, 2014

Wide differences in state-tax rates have created a thriving black market in cigarettes, with Arizona a top destination for smuggled shipments, according to a Tax Foundation study. New York is tops.


Increased tax rates and wide differences among the states have increased the black market for cigarette smuggling, with Arizona as the No. 2 state for inbound shipments, according to a new study.

The report, from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, cited a lucrative and thriving black market that can lead to other problems.

Smuggled cigarettes make up an estimated 51.5 percent of consumption in Arizona, second only to New York, at 56.9 percent, according to the study. New York has the nation’s highest cigarette tax, at $4.35 per pack, based on 2012 numbers. That’s in addition to a tax of $1.50 a pack in New York City.

New Mexico (48.1 percent), Washington (48 percent) and Wisconsin (34.6 percent) had the next-highest rates rates of inbound smuggling as a percentage of consumption.

Outbound smuggling is most common in New Hampshire, Wyoming, Idaho, Virginia and Delaware, states where cigarettes can be purchased at a lower cost and smuggled elsewhere. Nevada (80 cents a pack) and Colorado (84 cents) are the states with the lowest cigarette taxes per pack in the Southwest.

“Dramatic increases in state cigarette taxes over the years have led to increased smuggling as criminals procure discounted packs from low-tax states to sell in high-tax states,” said Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard, in a statement. “Growing cigarette-tax differentials have made cigarette smuggling both a national problem and a lucrative criminal enterprise.”

In addition to lost state-tax revenue, smuggling activities also can include counterfeit state-tax stamps, counterfeit versions of legitimate brands, hijacked trucks and the bribing of officials who turn a blind eye to illegal shipments, said the report.

The Tax Foundation study relied on a statistical analysis of data by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy to estimate smuggling rates for each state.

Missouri had the nation’s lowest cigarette tax, at 17 cents a pack.

Click Here for the Article

Mohave County Youth are “Kicking butts and taking names”

March 25, 2014

Kicking butts and taking names

Kids launch crusade for tobacco-free public parks

By BILL McMILLEN/The Daily News, Mohave County
Published: Sunday, March 23, 2014
BULLHEAD CITY — It didn’t take much convincing to make Felicity Burke an anti-tobacco advocate.

“It’s too yucky,” said Burke, 13, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River. “They should stop growing tobacco. They should destroy it.”

Burke already has done that in her young life.

“I used to break my parents’ cigarettes and throw them in the trash,” she said sheepishly.

Club Teen Director Jon Moss isn’t advocating that type of destruction — it could carry some serious repercussions — but he is directing club members to be activists in the fight against children’s exposure to tobacco. The club’s Teens Against Nicotine Coalition is trying to convince the Bullhead City Council to make city parks tobacco-free zones. Club members spent a day last week writing letters to the council and drawing images of what they think a public park should look like.

“Our main focus is Community Park, Rotary Park and Ken Fovargue Park,” Moss said. “Those are the ones that seem to get used the most by kids, between AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization), softball, Little League and us (the Boys & Girls Club).”

He said the TAN Coalition became aware of a similar initiative in Kingman and decided to put together a plan to coincide with National Kick Butts Day, a nationwide youth anti-tobacco effort organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the United Health Foundation.

Moss said the hope is not only to help kids make choices toward a healthier lifestyle, but to learn about how to create positive responses to real-life situations.

“It’s been a really fun process,” he said. “The kids have learned a lot about the process.”

Not only has there been education about the health risks of tobacco use, but there has been discussion on how advocacy groups operate, how constituents (even those who can’t vote yet) can contact their elected officials and how to coordinate several activities toward a common goal.

The most important —and immediate — part of the plan is the letter-writing campaign to members of the Bullhead City Council.

“We want to bring a binder of letters to the council,” said Moss, adding that the club will deliver those letters at an upcoming council meeting, hoping that Bullhead City’s governing body will consider tobacco prohibitions — or at the least, restrictions — at city facilities where children frequently gather.

Tommy Bigelow, director of operations and community outreach for the local Boys & Girls Club, said it was only fitting that the club not only endorse the anti-tobacco campaign but become actively involved in it.

“As a staff, we’re committed to being tobacco-free,” he said, noting that the club campus on Highland Road is a tobacco-free zone. “We’re trying to set an example.”

Club President and CEO Teri Tomlinson said it is one of the more important components “of our core training” toward developing healthier future adults.

“The fact that we’re able to put together a program on healthy lifestyles and offer it to our members (during spring break at the local schools) is really important to us,” she said.

Burke was just one of many club members more than willing to join the anti-tobacco crusade.

“Smoking is one of the worst things in the world,” suggested Paige Taylor, 10.

“It can hurt the environment and it can hurt people,” added Eternity Almeida, 10, trying to convey those messages in her letter to the council.

“People die from smoking,” said Shelby Jenkins, who despite being only 8 years old seemed to have a pretty good grasp on the clinical data. “It’s not good for you.”

Jenkins said she has relatives who smoke. She said she wished they didn’t.

“I try to get them to stop, but they won’t stop,” she said sadly.

Summer Young, 10, said she is going to urge anyone she knows who uses tobacco to find a way to kick the habit.

“They’ll die,” she said matter-of-factly. “Smoking is bad for you.”

She said she is pushing “for a smoking-free park” so kids can play without being in contact with second-hand smoke, adding that sometimes a trip to the park isn’t as much fun “because people smoke there.”

Moss said that the younger club members already had pretty good awareness on the dangers of smoking even before the Kick Butts Day activities. That, he said, likely was a combination of parental guidance, public scrutiny of tobacco use and the club’s discussion of healthy lifestyles.

“For the younger kids, it’s mostly education,” he said of the local focus developed from material provided by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We, as a club, try to steer them toward a healthy lifestyle, being active, avoiding drugs, alcohol, tobacco. We try to steer them toward those decisions.”

Tyler Reed, 8, was in the club’s arts and crafts room drawing a picture of what he thought a tobacco-free park should look like.

His drawing showed several children having fun on playground equipment — swings, slides, climbing bars — under a bright sun and a blue sky.

Also prominent in his picture was a big, red “no smoking” sign in the middle of the park.

Asked if that was how the park should be, he nodded as he looked at the work-in-progress and resumed coloring the vivid sky.

“People shouldn’t smoke there,” he said. “Kids are playing there.”

Several dozen club members took part in the National Kick Butts Day activities. Moss said that was a positive response, considering that many families made other plans during spring break – and some members were taking part in other school-related activities during the intersession.

“For the kids to be here, that’s the tough part,” he said. “The ones who are here all seem to want to be involved.”

As for the effectiveness of the letter-writing campaign, Moss said he was hopeful.

“We’ll present the letters to the city council and see what happens,” he said. “It’s a start.”

Youths and tobacco use

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Smoking and smokeless tobacco use are initiated and established primarily during adolescence. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99 percent started by age 26.1

Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 2,100 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers become daily cigarette smokers.

If smoking persists at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are projected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today.

In 2012, 6.7 percent of middle school and 23.3 percent of high school students currently used tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, snus, smokeless tobacco, pipes, bidis, keteks, dissolvable tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.

From 2011–2012, electronic cigarette use doubled among middle and high school students, and hookah use increased among high school students.

* Current use of smokeless tobacco is about half of what it was in the mid-1990s. However, only a modest decline has occurred since 2010 and no change occurred between 2012 and 2013. Smokeless tobacco use remains a mostly male behavior.6

* Concurrent use of multiple tobacco products is prevalent among youth. Among high school students who report currently using tobacco, almost one-third of females and one-half of males report using more than one tobacco product in the past 30 days.

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Robot helps students take a STAND against tobacco products

March 25, 2014

Published:Kingman Daily Miner Sunday, March 23, 2014


PHOENIX — Students Taking A New Direction (STAND) Arizona’s anti-smoking youth coalition unveiled its latest tool in tobacco control education before legislators and advocates at the Arizona State Capitol last week.

The Take Aim at Tobacco student-made robot exhibition was part of STAND Legislative Day where hundreds of STAND members from across Arizona descended upon the state capitol to educate legislators about anti-smoking initiatives that they are spearheading in their cities and towns.

The legislative event was a way to mark Kick Butts Day recognized on Wednesday.  Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco.

“All of us will remember this day for forever,” said Janea Crum, member of STAND. “Meeting face to face with our representatives and being recognized for the anti-smoking work we are doing in our communities makes me want to do even more to protect people from tobacco.”

“STAND members are an active committed group of youth who represent communities across Arizona,” said Ken Walker, director of program development services, Pima Prevention Partnership. “Today is a testament that support for tobacco control, prevention and education is significant statewide. We should all applaud these young people for their focus and their efforts.”

STAND members spent the morning meeting individually with legislators from their district, followed by a Legislative luncheon and formal program featuring a variety of guest speakers. Youth speakers shared details about the initiatives they are leading at the local level, from banning smoking in public parks to being vigilant of retailers who sell to minors. Other tobacco control advocates were present, including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network as well as Arizonan’s Concerned About Smoking and Arizona Smoke-free Living.

Also present were members of Red Mountain Plasma Robotics Club who partnered with STAND  to create Engineering Addiction: Take Aim at Tobacco, an anti-smoking education exhibition. The project is the result of collaboration between the school’s theatrical set design students and club members to literally “take aim at tobacco” with a student-made robot.

The robot exhibition measures about 400 square feet. It is an interactive experience that invites the public to maneuver the robot. It starts by asking multiple-choice questions about tobacco, which earns participants the opportunity to work the robot. It is designed to launch Frisbees which are deployed by the “robot controller” into slots on the “wall of education” which is about 12 feet away. The wall is urban art inspired and hand painted, segmented by themes like Addiction, Big Tobacco, Health Effects and Advertising.  The whole event was captured on Twitter at @AZSTAND. Learn more about Arizona’s statewide anti-smoking youth coalition by visiting

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University of Arizona seeking public comments to their Tobacco-Free campus policy

March 20, 2014

Please take the time to post a supportive comment:

Tobacco-free University of Arizona Policy

University of  Arizona – Policies & Procedures

A draft of the proposed Tobacco-free University of Arizona Policy is available for an 8-week review and comment period at the link below. Please send your comments to Allison Vaillancourt ( by Friday, April 25, 2014.

Link to policy:

Suffolk County, NY raises legal age to purchase tobacco.

March 20, 2014


Press Release/Media


Lora A. Gellerstein
Chief Legislative Aide
Office of Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer
18th Legislative District
(631) 854-4500


Suffolk Legislature Makes History – Again!

Legal Age To Purchase Tobacco Products and E-Cigarettes Raised to 21

Huntington, NY – Suffolk County Legislator William R. Spencer (D-Huntington) and his colleagues made history last night.  After hours of testimony on both sides of the debate, the Suffolk County Legislature approved IR 1039-2014, A Local Law to Raise the Legal Age for the Sale of Tobacco Products in Suffolk County by a vote of 10 to 8.  At times the debate became contentious but eventually, late into the night, Legislators took the historic vote and Suffolk became the first county in the nation to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 years old.  This is a measure that most agree will not only save lives but contain health care costs as well.

“This issue is complicated but everyone agrees that smoking is always hazardous to your health,” stated Legislator Spencer.  “There is no question that in the 50 years since the Surgeon General issued his first warning about tobacco, we have proven, using sound and repetitive science that the chemicals in these products are highly addictive and deadly. Keeping these products out of the hands of our teenagers will save lives.”

Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken agreed. He stated that research shows that when polled, “90% of adult smokers had their first cigarette before they were 18 years old and 90% of the cigarettes purchased for them were done so by those between the ages of 18 – 20.”  In addition, “legal purchasers between the ages of 18 – 20 are currently the significant source of cigarettes for 12-17 year olds.  Raising the legal age to purchase these products would put purchasers outside the social circles of those still in high school.  This public health policy will save lives.”

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Manzanita Head Start gets a head start on “Kicking Butts”

March 20, 2014