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February 12, 1998 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ourts fail to act on
youths who are
caught smoking

The Michigan Daily -- Thursday, February 12, 1998 - 9A

Five for the future

Tobacco lawyers
face large test

Oakland County
lagging in prosecution of
underage offenders
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -
Oakland County courts have failed to
act on two-thirds of the underage
smoking tickets issued by police in
the past 18 months.
*Of 740 smoking citations issued by
police and sent to the court's juvenile
division during the past 18 months,
462 -- or nearly two-thirds - have
not been acted upon, court officials
told the Detroit Free Press for a story
"Obviously that's very frustrating.
We're spinning our wheels,"
Farmington Hills police Chief
William Dwyer told the newspaper.
l "I'm hearing from my detectives
and officers that these tickets have
been dismissed," Dwyer said. "The
kids think it's a joke. They probably
just throw away the ticket and
The backlog began in the summer
of 1996 when the Oakland County
Prosecutor's Office informed the
juvenile court it could no longer
linked to
DETROIT (AP) -- A new study sug-
gesting a strong link between cigarette
addiction and depression could have
implications for young smokers, a
researcher said Tuesday.
The study; published in the Feb. 10
issue of Archives of General
Psychiatry, found that people with a
story of depression who smoked
Tcasionally increased their risk of
becoming daily smokers during the
five-year period of the research. The
progression to daily smoking typically
begins in adolescence.
The study also found that people
addicted to nicotine were twice as like-
ly as nonsmokers to become clinically
"We are now able to tell that the
Wuence of cigarettes on depression
occurs in both directions," said study
co-author Naomi Breslau, Ph.D., direc-
tor of research for the Department of
Behavioral Services at Henry Ford
HIalth Systems.
The study tracked about 1,000 young
adults aged 21 to 30 over a five-year
poriod in southeastern Michigan.
It succeeded an earlier 14-month
stidy by Breslau that suggested depres-
sion and nicotine dependence might
m from a shared vulility. This
research supports that earlier study,
Breslau said Tuesday.
"The sad thing about it, despite the
fact we know very well that tobacco -
and nicotine - is the most addictive
substance we know of, the rate of
smoking in adolescents has not gone
down," she said, noting that depression
should perhaps be added to the list of
Woking-related health problems.
Dr. Alexander Glassman, a smoking
researcher at Columbia University in
New York, said Breslau's data supports
earlier studies that also found an asso-
ciation between smoking and depres-
"The issue about what leads peo-

pie to smoke is an important issue
because 3,000 kids start smoking
every day in this country,"
Glassman said. "If you really want
4do something about smoking, you
need to cut down on that number of
new smokers."
The underlying cause for the rela-
tionship between depression and
smoking needs further research, she
said, but she points to several possi-
* A genetic predisposition might
explain why people who smoke are the
ame people who are going to become
A substance in cigarettes may
cause depression.
Smokers may use nicotine to med-
icate their depressed mood.
"The research strongly suggests the
same genes put you at risk for depres-

afford to send prosecutors to pro-
ceedings related to the smoking
"We were falling behind on more-
serious juvenile action," Assistant
Prosecutor James Halushka said. "In
the last two years, we had a 30-per-
cent increase in juvenile felonies.
Smoking just pales in comparison."
Juvenile court officials have asked
the communities to provide their own
"If they want to proceed, then the
local prosecutor has to come," said
court spokesperson Charles
Ludwig.Tickets written in nine com-
munities that have agreed to supply
their own prosecutors are acted upon.
Tickets written by police in other
communities aren't addressed.
Ludwig said the court plans to dis-
miss the outstanding tickets, but it
also will send offenders' parents a
letter explaining the offense and urg-
ing them to help their children.
Neighboring Wayne and Macomb
counties have not reported similar
problems because courts do not
require the presence of a prosecutor
in smoking cases, the newspaper

ST. lAUL, Minn. --When tobacco
lawyers checked into their hotels for the
state s anti-tobacco mega-trial, they
were greeted by in-room copies of
Minnesota Monthly with a beaming
Jeanne Weigum on its cover.
The magazine had named Weigum
its 1997 Minnesotan of the Year,
which must have given the tobacco
men pause.
Unlike most people saluted in
such manner, Weigum is not an
industrialist, philanthropist or cul-
tural icon, but a veteran anti-smok-
ing activist.
These days, a friendly forum for Big
Tobacco is nearly impossible to find.
But Minnesota is especially hostile, and
Weigum's standing suggests what ciga-
rette makers are up against in the
biggest and most crucial courtroom
battle in their history.
The smoking rate among adults here
is just under 21 percent. according to-
U.S. government data, a lower rate than
all but three other states.
Minnesota was years ahead of the
rest of the country in cracking down on
illegal tobacco sales to children, as
local police ran stings with health
groups and undercover teen-agers to
bust wayward merchants.
In 1975, Minnesota became the
first state to pass a clean indoor air

As the third week of the tobacco
trial ended in St. Paul on Friday, the
area was bathed in high temperatures
inching into the 30s with nights in
the teens -- about as toasty as it gets
this time of year.
Yet even in the frozen heart of
winter, smokers usually are forced
to shiver outside as they get their
At the federal courthouse where the
trial is taking place, a sign tells them
where they can go. Smoking Area, it
states, Sides of Building.
"The prevailing consensus is 'Let
them suffer,"' says Steven Schier,
who chairs the political science
department at nearby Carleton
According to Schier, Minnesota
has the "moralistic" political culture
that is found in a few northern-tier
states that were heavily settled by
"They're unusual states in that
lifestyle is a public policy objective," he
said. The states usually have a "big con-
cern about abstract principle - what is
right and good-and (a willingness) to
use the government to pursue those
ends," Schier said. "And one thing
(that) is not good, it's been decided in
Minnesota, is smoking."

Vice President Al Gore gets a high-five from eighth-grader Muhammad Hill'
yesterday at an appearance where he helped unveil a new anti-smoking bill
that raises taxes on cigarettes.


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