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November 25, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-11-25

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 25, 1997
No one knows how to stop youth from tobacco use

The Washington Post
When the state of Arizona launched a
multimillion-dollar anti-smoking cam-
paign, officials decided to target youths
by appealing to them in their own lan-
guage. The slogan "Tobacco. Tumor
causing, teeth staining, smelly puking
habit," became nearly ubiquitous begin-
ning in 1996, emblazoned on T-shirts,
billboards, caps, pens, key chains, boxer
shorts and more across the state.

It was the most visible part of a $30-
million tobacco education and cessation
program. It was tough. It was in your
face. And with some kids, at least, it
Just ask 16-year-old Ashley Lane,
whose friends donned the T-shirts so
that they could be seen wearing them
while smoking. Some even burned cig-
arette holes in the shirts. "We all
thought it was a joke, basically ... Like

'Look at me, ha ha,' outright defiance.
It was like, 'yeah, right, whatever."'
Arizona's experience illustrates a
sobering fact: No one really knows
what works.
State and local campaigns in this
country and others have tried many
approaches to stop children from smok-
ing, including price increases, crack-
downs on sales to minors, and restric-
tions on advertising and promotional

activities that appeal to young people.
The efforts ha e produced promising,
but decidedly mixed. results.
"We have made some fundamental
assumptions, and they're based on our
intuitive grasp--- but they are not based
on hard fact, said Richard Clayton,
head of a cessation-research program at
the University of Kentucky. "The sci-
ence is emerging on this but it hasn't in
any strong sense arrived."

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Tobacco control experts say that little
has been done to effectively gauge the
success of youth programs, and that sci-
ence appears to be far from determining
how to overcome what is perhaps the
most perplexing obstacle: the contrari-
ness of the adolescent mind.
"The truth is we really don't know a
lot about what we can do," said John
Pierce of the University of California at
San Diego, who measures smoking
behavior for the state. "We certainly
know that we're getting blown away by
the industry at the moment."
Despite all of the anti-tobacco efforts
in recent years, teen-agers' attitudes
toward smoking are growing more pos-
itive. Since 1991, the proportion of
eighth-graders who say they disapprove
of smoking a pack a day has fallen from
83 percent to 77 percent; among 12th-
graders, from 71 percent to 67 percent,
according to the University of
Michigan's nationwide "Monitoring the
F'uture" survey.
Today, about 90 percent of smokers
take up the habit before they turn 18,
public health officials say; 3,000 kids
try smoking each day, and an estimated
1,000 of them become regular smokers,
In 1996, 30 percent of 10th-graders and
34 percent of 12th-graders smoked in
the previous month, and smoking
jumped by nearly half among eighth-
and 10th-graders between 1991 and
But research on exactly what factors
lead young people to smoke is murky.
They appear to be a blend of parental

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With attitudes toward smoking growing
more positive, experts wonder what
they can do to stop America's youth
from using tobacco products.
smoking, peer pressure and advertising,
said Richard Pollay, a tobacco advertis-
ing expert at the University of British
Columbia. 'Any reasonable judgment
shows that there is an influential role of
advertising. It's impossible to quantify
exactly its contribution relative to other
factors like peer pressure - but it con-
tributes to these other factors."
Ashley Lane started smoking
years ago. "It wasn't like people E
passing a cigarette and I said 'Well,
okay. I guess.' I went to look for some-
body who could give me cigarettes so I
could go smoking. I wanted to be part
of the party crowd and that was part of
it." She bummed her first smokes off of
a couple of worldly I I -year-olds.
may get
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON In hearings on
the proposed national tobacco settle-
ment earlier this month, House
Commerce Committee Chair Thomas
J. Bliley Jr. (R-Va.), one of the tobacco
industry's staunchest defenders in
Congress, demanded that the compa-
nies turn over a trove of sealed docu-
ments !ong sought by industry foes.
"If the tobacco industry engaged *
criminal or fraudulent activities, then
Congress has a right ... to know before
legislation is enacted," Bliley told a
standing-room-only crowd. In a letter
to Philip Morris Cos., Bliley said that if
the documents were not turned over
voluntarily by Dec. 4, he would "con-
sider issuing a subpoena" the next day
for their production.
The 864 documents are among hun-
dreds of thousands that have been ce4
lected in a lawsuit filed by Minnesota
Attorney General Hubert H. Humphrey
I11, one of 40 state attorneys general
who have sued the industry. A special
master handling the Minnesota case
has ruled that the documents must be
disclosed, rejecting industry arguments
that they are protected by attorney-
client confidentiality. In his letter,
Bliley said they have been identified
"as possibly containing evidence
criminal or fraudulent activities by ce
tain tobacco companies."
Bliley's action shocked some tobac-
co foes, while others were skeptical of
his motives. Philip Morris is a potent
force in Bliley's district, and according
to Common Cause, Bliley has received
more tobacco campaign contributions
than any House member - about
$133,000 since 1987.
"If the request comes from the co
gressman from Philip Morris, it's mo
likely to be fulfilled voluntarily from
the industry" said Eric Johnson, an
aide to Humphrey.
However, Rep. Henry A. Waxman,
(D-Calif), one of tobacco's strongest
foes, commended Bliley. "I think he
was genuinely determined to get these
documents .... "Waxman said after the
hearing. "I don't see an ulterior motive.
.. I think he is sincere and genuine"
Other congressional sources sa*
Bliley might have broken ranks with

the industry because he is frustrated
that the companies ignored members of
Congress in the negotiations that pro-
duced the proposed tobacco deal.
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