Merced's "Mainzer Theater" hosted an event encouraging communities to get involved and support policies against tobacco use.
The UC Merced Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center, American Heart Association, and other partners put on the "Connecting Communities Around Tobacco Policies Summit."
Speakers from around the Valley and state addressed ways to prevent youth smoking and provide access to resources to help smokers quit.
For one of the educators at UC Merced, the mission is personal after losing his dad last year, a long-time smoker, to a lung disease.
Arturo Durazo, Ph.D., is a community psychologist & health scientist who uses his own pain and experience to create change.
"To see someone die from something that could have been preventable in such a painful horrible way, this is an outlet for me to doing something, that somebody else does not need to share my pain," Durazo said.
Participants shared that it was a great turnout, and they are ready to work on the next steps to tackle high tobacco use in Central California.
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