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Tobacco-Free Kids Campaign: An Update and Call to Action

by Julie Taylor and Sung-ok Lee

During the April, 2002 Spring Board meeting; the Women’s Division joined the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.


Every day in our nation:

  • 5,000 kids, under the age of 18 try their first cigarette 
  • 2,000 kids become regular daily smokers
  • one third of whom will die prematurely as a result of tobacco caused diseases
  • Approximately 1 out of 5 pregnant teenagers pass the risks of smoking on to their babies directly or through exposure to second-hand smoke.

One of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, particularly among adolescents, is to raise the price of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products through tax increases. Studies show that for every 10 percent increase in price youth smoking decreases by seven percent.


I Corinthians 3:16,17 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”  This speaks to the damage done to the human body by smoking.  In addition, Mark 9:42, Jesus says, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.”  It is clear that responsibility for not leading our children in the wrong direction belongs to those who hear and follow Jesus teachings.  


The Discipline’s Social Principles 2004 (162.k) states, “We affirm our historic tradition of high standards of personal discipline and social responsibility.  In light of the overwhelming evidence that tobacco smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco are hazardous to the health of persons of all ages, we recommend total abstinence from the use of tobacco.  We urge that our educational and communication resources be utilized to support and encourage such abstinence.   Further, we recognize the harmful effects of passive smoke and support the restriction of smoking in public areas and workplaces.”

The Women’s Division and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids is urging states to discourage kids from smoking by substantially increasing their excise taxes on cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products.


We encourage United Methodist Women to be active within their states encouraging states to increase their excise taxes on tobacco products as another way to discourage our kids from smoking and encouraging a healthier life.

Be alert to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in your state and watch for more information coming soon.


United Methodists in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference were instrumental in enacting a 30-cent-per-package increase on cigarettes in the state of Maryland in 1999.  A survey released last year by the Maryland Department of Education showed a 3 percent decline in the smoking rate of tenth-graders, and a 16 percent decline in adult consumption.  At the same time, Maryland saw $68 million dollars in new revenue.

In a time when new state revenues are becoming more difficult to find, the increase in cigarette taxes presents a compelling solution.

The Women’s Division also joined the Interreligious Coalition on Smoking or Health and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in petitioning President Bush to support the following three major policies concerning international tobacco control:

  • That all parts of the executive branch of the United States have been instructed to not use any of their powers to promote the sale, marketing or advertising of tobacco products to or in other nations.
  • That United States diplomats have been instructed to assist nations to which they have been posted to develop effective tobacco control programs; and
  • That the United States delegates to the negotiations of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have been instructed to support provisions on the Convention that assist low and middle income nations to curtail tobacco consumption and to protect non-smoking members of society, especially the most vulnerable.


For more information on the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, please visit their web site at

To find out how United Methodist Women are involved and can be involved, contact

Sung-ok Lee, Executive Secretary for Community Action
Women’s Division, General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church
475 Riverside Drive
New York, NY  10115.

See Also...
Topic: Children Health Women
Source: Women's Division

Date posted: Feb 18, 2005