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Oklahoma attorney general didn't join anti-tobacco movement

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: March 17, 2014

The signature of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was not included on a letter that 28 attorneys general from 24 states, three U.S. territories and Washington, D.C. sent to five major retailers Friday, urging them to stop selling tobacco products.

The letters to  KrogerRite AidSafewayWalgreens and Wal-Mart come after CVS Pharmacy announced in early February that it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The attorneys generals, led by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, asked the retailers to remove any and all tobacco products from their shelves.

Part of the letter reads:

State Attorneys General have long fought to protect their citizens, particularly youth, from the dangers of tobacco products.

For example, in the 1990’s, State Attorneys General sued the major cigarette companies for the harm their products caused. To resolve these lawsuits, in 1998 State Attorneys General entered into the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) (as well as earlier settlements in four states) with the major tobacco companies, and a number of other tobacco companies are now also parties to the MSA.

A principal goal of the MSA is to reduce underage tobacco use by discouraging such use and by preventing youth access to tobacco products. To help achieve that goal, the States devote considerable resources to the prevention of sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors.

With the protection of our States’ citizens in mind, the undersigned Attorneys General write to urge you to cease selling all tobacco products.

The letter had bipartisan support, with nine Republicans, 18 Democrats and one nonpartisan attorney general signing on.

A spokesman at Pruitt’s office confirmed Monday that Pruitt didn’t sign the letter but didn’t elaborate when asked on Pruitt’s reasoning.

In 2012,  Oklahoma’s ranking of adults who smoke decreased, with the state’s ranking nationwide shifting from No. 47 to 2011 to No. 39 in 2012.

In 2011, 26 percent of adults in Oklahoma were current smokers. That number decreased to 23 percent in 2012, according to the data collected through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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