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Meeting Aims to Snuff Out Teen Tobacco Use

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CHARLOTTE — Kids are not supposed to get their hands on tobacco until they are 18 years old, but they do. In a town meeting Friday in Charlotte, the talk was about finding a solution to keep tobacco away from them.

More than 800 teens, public health officials, teachers and school administrators from across the state are taking part in the two-day meeting at the Charlotte Convention Center.

For several hours Friday, students from 75 North Carolina high schools talked about teenagers using tobacco. Getting them to stop is the hard part..

Students at theGovernor's Summit to Prevent Teen Tobacco Usesay smokers know tobacco kills.

"They kind of know it in their head, but they don't feel it yet, and they don't realize the consequences until they're addicted and it's too late," says Durham student Doug Paletta.

The teens say it takes a wide approach to get kids to stop.

"If there's no one in the home telling you that it's wrong or you shouldn't do it, then I think that's all for nothing," says Wake Forest student Frank Rivers.

Belinda Grant voluntarily went to a smoking cessation program she learned about at school.

"I wanted to get along in school activities and I couldn't do that smoking." she says.

Governor Hunt wants part of the tobacco settlement money earmarked for teen smoking prevention programs. Only $5 million is currently set aside to create regional education centers.

"It's going to take efforts like this one that came together. It's going to take regional conferences and more funding," says N.C. teen tobacco advisor Jim Martin.

TheThe Centers for Disease Control and Preventionsuggests states need to spend $40 million every year to help prevent teens from ever picking up a cigarette.

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Yvonne Simons, Reporter
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