State Seeks Additional Partners in Fight Against Youth Smoking

May 16, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe, Public Health Director Dr. Dora Mills and the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine are seeking to add to the more than 600 retailers across Maine that participate in the ?NO BUTS? (Blocking Underage Tobacco Sales) program. The drive to enroll new retailers follows the distribution of an updated brochure and training DVD that was sent to participating merchants in April.

The ?NO BUTS? program was first launched in 2001 as part of an effort to curb underage tobacco use. Participating retailers receive, at no cost, a training DVD, ?NO BUTS? window stickers, age verification calendars, and recognition by Healthy Maine Partnerships who spread the word about responsible retailers. Participating stores can qualify for compliance credits when they adopt and fully implement the program and establish a record of compliance.

?We have seen youth smoking rates drop by more than 60% in the past seven years. Programs like ?NO BUTS? have been essential to our success, but we must continue to expand the partnership with retailers to sustain and improve upon this success,? Attorney General Rowe said.

Last month, participants in the ?NO BUTS? program received the updated training video entitled ?It Takes a Good Check?. The video, hosted by Dianna Fletcher and Portland Pirate Bobby Ryan, outlines the compelling public health reasons tobacco sales are restricted and provides information that store clerks should know in order to prevent the sale of tobacco products to children under the age of eighteen including:

  • The sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 18 is against the law and can result in a fine of up to $1500 and the loss of their job
  • Tobacco does not just include cigarettes but also; cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, rolling papers and pipes
  • Maine law requires a clerk to check the ID of anyone who is attempting to purchase a tobacco product and looks 27 years old or younger
  • When checking an ID look to make sure that the photograph matches the person buying the tobacco, that they are in fact 18 years old and that the ID has not been altered.

?Nearly 90% of adults who currently smoke started before they were 18. If we can prevent our youth from getting access to tobacco and having that first cigarette, we have a good chance of breaking the cycle of death and disability cased by tobacco use. Maine retailers can play a major role in breaking that cycle by participating in the NO BUTS program? Dr. Mills added.

Licensed tobacco retailers who are not currently participating in the ?NO BUTS? program will receive a brochure this week outlining the program and its benefits to both the retailer and the community. These stores can receive the NO BUTS introduction CD by returning the reply card that is included in the packet of information. ?I would encourage all stores to sign up for this program,? said John Archard, Tobacco Enforcement Coordinator in the Attorney General?s Office. ?From a social perspective, it is the right thing to do, from an economic perspective it is the smart thing to do. On average a store needs to sell roughly 10,000 packs of cigarettes to make up the profit lost from one $1000 fine.?

Mary Beth Welton, Program Manager for the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine offered her support for the outreach effort saying, ?A strong public health message, responsible retail practices, and diligent enforcement of our State?s progressive tobacco laws coupled with the other components of Maine?s comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program have contributed to Maine?s unparalleled success in reducing youth smoking. It is our hope that we can reach out to new partners as we continue to build on our existing relationships.?


NEWS RELEASE May 16, 2008 Mary Beth Welton (207) 287-5381, Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine John Archard (207) 626-8837, Office of the Attorney General