BULLHEAD CITY — Early last Monday, a group of students from Bullhead City and Kingman gathered in front of Mohave High School, waiting for a bus, which would continue on to Lake Havasu, where they picked up another student for a four-hour ride to Phoenix. 

On this occasion, each of these young people represented their local youth coalition as a part of STAND and MCTUPP. At 10:15 a.m., they were dropped off at Chase Field where the Diamondback’s were playing against Philadelphia’s Phillies. These students were being lauded and entertained as a reward for their efforts with the Arizona Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Counter Strike team. 

STAND is an acronym for a statewide organization called Students Taking A New Direction and MCTUPP is a more local county organization called Mohave County Tobacco Use Prevention Program. Each student represented a local community organization. These coalitions were B.O.O.O.T (Bullhead Opting Out Of Tobacco). Kingman’s Kyc-Butt (Kingman Youth Coalition Beating Up Teen Tobacco) and Lake Havasu’s SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco).

The students became part of a larger group of roughly 70 students from across the state of Arizona, who participated in similar volunteer efforts in and around the local communities they were representing. More on that later.

The day’s activities at Chase Field began with an awards ceremony, after which the group was escorted to one of four private suites on the Diamond level at Chase Field. From this perspective they witnessed a day of typical baseball activities. The Diamondbacks, who are experiencing a great year so far, beat the Philadelphia Phillies for the third time in as many recent games. The score was 6-1. 

Per Erika Mansur, Assistant Attorney General in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, “AGO is the Counter Strike youth tobacco inspection program.”

Since 2002 the Attorney General’s Office has partnered with the Arizona Department of Health Services to develop and maintain the Counter Strike program.

Youth volunteers, accompanied by special investigators from the Attorney General’s Office, enter tobacco retailers and attempt to purchase tobacco products.

If the retailer sells a tobacco product to the volunteer, they may be given a citation for furnishing tobacco to a minor, a petty offense with a potential fine of $300. The business may also be fined up to $1,000 per offense.

Follow up letters are sent to the retailer and their corporate office, if any.

Department of Health Services may follow up on a failed inspection with merchant education opportunities.

If the retailer refuses to sell the tobacco product to the volunteer, they are notified of the inspection and congratulated for their vigilance in keeping tobacco away from kids. 

The program’s goal is to reduce youth access to tobacco in retail outlets by systematically monitoring retailer compliance with state laws which prohibit the sale of tobacco products

to minors.

The program also serves to coordinate and encourage local enforcement with those laws. More than 23,000 retail inspections have been performed since the program’s inception.” 

The evidence is irrefutable based on decades of research by multiple respected agencies. Tobacco use is extremely addictive and leads to a lifetime of deadly illnesses and negative economic impact. 

Those addicted to nicotine most often suffer deadly diseases and lost time at work. This not only costs the individual users, but also the community at large. 

The tobacco companies target the economically impaired communities who then become wards of the state, whose medical expenses that come from our tax dollars.

For more information, or for those students who want to be a part of this community service, please contact Dean Wenrich with B.O.O.O.T in Bullhead City at 972-835-1033. Contact Andrea Miranda in Kingman at 928-753-0794, Ext4360, and Debra Martin in Lake Havasu at 928-453-0734.

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