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Statement by the American Legacy Foundation(R) on Youth Smoking Rates

Monitoring the Future Study Reports Mixed Messages - Good News on Youngest Teens, While Older Teens' Smoking Rates Remain Stagnant

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New data announced in today's Monitoring the Future study shows youth smoking rates among 8th graders have declined significantly, but that the declines for 10th graders are statistically insignificant and for 12th graders are at a stand still. For the fourth consecutive year, the rates for 10th and 12th graders stayed flat, a trend that now threatens the historic near 30-year decline in youth smoking.

The report, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and now in its 33rd year, is a highly respected source for data about youth smoking. Despite the encouraging news about 8th graders, overall the findings are a troubling indication that much more needs to be done to keep youth from starting to smoke.

The public health community, doctors and parents must work together to foster a continued rate of decline. The Master Settlement Agreement reached in 1998 between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry provided our country with a unique opportunity - and with focused funding -- to address youth smoking and help smokers who want to quit.

Furthering that message, in May of this year, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report, hailed as a blueprint for addressing smoking at various levels in Americans' lives. In the report, the IOM indicated that if, as a nation, we commit ourselves to implementing the recommendations found in the report, we can reduce smoking prevalence rates to 10 percent by the year 2025; save millions of lives; and serve as a model for developing nations where smoking rates are climbing dramatically.

One of the recommendations called for in the IOM report called for "a national youth-oriented media campaign that should be funded on an ongoing basis as a permanent component of the nation's strategy to reduce tobacco use." The report went on to call for supplemental programs on the state and community levels.

The foundation's truth campaign is a national youth smoking prevention campaign that delivers facts and messages to teens about tobacco, allowing them to make their own informed choices about whether or not to smoke. Research has indicated that in the first two years of the campaign, 22 percent of the overall decline in youth smoking was directly attributable to truth(R). As the only organization directing a national media campaign for youth smoking prevention - other than the tobacco industry -- Legacy hopes that funding will continue and grow for efforts like its truth(R) campaign and state-specific campaigns. Clearly, efforts like these are working with young teens as is indicated by today's findings.

Through the truth(R) campaign and other initiatives, the American Legacy Foundation(R) is committed to effectively reaching the teen audience and reducing youth smoking. The tobacco industry continues to spend more than 36 million dollars a day on marketing efforts in the U.S. alone, successfully marketing its products and addicting new smokers.

Eighty percent of all smokers have their first cigarette before age 18(1), and between one-third and one-half of youth who try a cigarette will go on to become daily smokers(2). These daily smokers may continue down a path of tobacco-related diseases and will incur higher healthcare costs than nonsmoking Americans. Funding youth smoking-prevention efforts could prevent these ill effects.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth(R), a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX(R), an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use; and a nationally-renowned program of outreach to priority populations. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit

truth(R), launched in February 2000, is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign and the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, health effects and social consequences of smoking and allows teens to make informed choices about tobacco use by giving them the facts about the industry and its products. The campaign was created by the American Legacy Foundation(R), which was founded as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry and 46 states. Payments to the American Legacy Foundation are made on behalf of the settling states.

(1) Mowery PD, Brick PD, Farrelly MC. Legacy First Look Report 3. Pathways to Established Smoking: Results from the 1999 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Washington DC: American Legacy Foundation. October 2000.

(2) MMWR. 1998. Decline Selected Cigarette Smoking Initiation and Quitting Behaviors Among High School Students. 47(19):386-389.

SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
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