PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – Attorney General Rob McKenna played a key role in top-level panel discussions on the enforcement of the 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement (MSA) and cross-border security this week at the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) 2008 Summer Meeting.
Wednesday, McKenna participated in a panel commemorating the tenth anniversary of the landmark settlement between fifty-two states and the nation’s four largest tobacco manufactures. As Co-Chair of NAAG’s Tobacco Committee, McKenna was asked to share enforcement strategies and successes originating from his office.
“I was pleased to update my colleagues on our continuing effort to protect public health dollars coming in from the MSA so that they may be channeled into public health and tobacco prevention programs,” McKenna said. “The great news is that prevention programs are working, and smoking is on the decline in the state of Washington and around the country.”
According to the Washington State Department of Health, in the years since MSA funds have been directed to statewide anti-smoking programs:
Adult smoking in Washington has dropped 21 percent; Washington now has the fifth lowest state smoking rate in the nation.
Overall, youth smoking has declined by 50 percent.
About 3,000 fewer babies per year are exposed to cigarette smoke during pregnancy.
About 68,000 adults have been spared an early tobacco- related death.
Future health care costs have been reduced by an estimated $1.8 billion.
More workers, children, and non-smokers are protected from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Also on Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Rusty Fallis received the Laurie Loveland Award for his extraordinary efforts to advance the work of state attorneys general on tobacco-related issues. Rusty was recognized for his work advising the Tobacco Co-Chairs and coordinating NAAG’s Tobacco Project, among other responsibilities.
On Thursday, McKenna participated in a panel on cross-border issues. Appearing with Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and attorneys general representing Canada and Mexico, McKenna underscored his latest work to fight human trafficking.
“It’s critical that we work across state lines and especially across international borders to reduce human trafficking, which is now tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal enterprise in the world,” McKenna said. “We also have to guard against labeling many of the victims of sex trafficking as criminals when in fact they are victims of prostitution.”
According to UNICEF, as many as 1.2 million children, most of them girls, are being trafficked across international borders each year. Because of evidence of human trafficking in the state of Washington, McKenna convened the Human Trafficking Round Table this year to identify methods of addressing the best strategies to reduce trafficking and provide assistance to victims.
Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725