The American Legacy Foundation uses
a “smoke screen” to hide behind.

(Letter to the editor-Study says teen smoking on the rise.)

It is important to note that the American Legacy Foundation’s (author of theTruth(R).com) accusation that the decrease in state spending is the cause of an increase in teen smoking is entirely self-serving.

Not only would they benefit from an increase in such spending, but also the American Legacy Foundation is likely seeking a scapegoat to divert criticism from their obvious failure to deliver a compelling message to prevent teens from using tobacco, and the possibility, that the message they have delivered, may have played a role in the increase in teen smoking.

The American Legacy Foundation started advertising to teens in the year 2000. After the reported 2002 reduction in teen smoking, they hired a company, to determine the portion of the reduction that could be attributed to their efforts. This company claimed that the American Legacy Foundation was responsible for 22% of the reduction in teen smoking from 2000 to 2002. You can be certain that they will not hire anyone to assess their contribution to the increase in teen smoking from 2002 to 2005.

When the Centers for Disease Control’s 2004 youth tobacco survey, showed no reduction in the percentage of teens who smoke, the American Legacy Foundation continued to promote their so-called 2002 success, while pointing the blame on the lack of progress in reducing teen smoking at the tobacco companies. Now as the 2005 numbers become available they want to divert attention from the fact, that their efforts to reduce teen smoking may be having the opposite effect. They seek to blame a large number of states for a lack of funding and the misleading charge that tobacco companies are still targeting teens. The only messages, relating to smoking, seen and heard since by teens since 2002, are from anti tobacco groups, such as the American Legacy Foundation. Proof that teens are aware of these messages come from their own studies showing their “brand recognition” among school age children.

From 1990 to 2002 there was a large a reduction in the percentage of teens that smoke. It is unlikely to be proven to be a coincidence that anti tobacco messages, started in the year 2000, would halt the decline in teens that choose to smoke within the first 2 years of their airing. Could it be a Machiavellian plot, to guarantee a need for their continued existence, and to glean even more funding to make war on an increase in teen smoking, that they are themselves perpetuating?

Two quotes from Mark Twain come to mind: "There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable" and "In fact, the more things are forbidden, the more popular they become."

It should also be noted that page 17 of the American Legacy Foundation’s financial statements show that they have accumulated more than 985 million dollars in net assets.

The fact that they have accumulated such a large sum and still have the audacity to malign states for not spending even more money, reveals that they are more interested in assuring their own future than they are “dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit.”

Thank you,

Jonathan Pinard
New York Coalition of Social Smokers

It should be noted that the New York Coalition of Social Smokers believes that only adults should use tobacco products. The Coalition further supports the goal of eliminating tobacco use among children and is interested in supporting anti tobacco programs that can be proven to reduce underage smoking in the long term.

Study says teen smoking on the rise
By: Hazel Trice Edney, NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON - Twenty-year-old John Adams takes a long drag from a half- smoked filtered cigarette, then uses the side of a brick building to snuff it out. He tucks the stump behind his ear, hoists his backpack; then breaks into a trot toward a bus stop on Georgia Avenue in Northwest D.C.

Perhaps a typical day for Adams, but according to statistics, he is in grave danger. The tiny stick behind his ear is a time bomb that kills 1,200 Americans a day and 450,000 a year, usually by cancer or other lung diseases, according to Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But like many young smokers, cancer is the furthest problem from Adams' mind. "I smoke to relieve stress, really," he shrugs at a reporter's question. "Looking for a job, my problems, you know, relationships. I want to go back to school in the fall."

Adams is not alone. New data announced last month by "Monitoring the Future," a University of Michigan project that documents trends of tobacco use among youth, shows that the once-celebrated rapid decline in youth smoking rates may now be coming to a halt.

"Teen smoking had been in steady decline from the recent peak levels of use reached in the mid-1990s through 2004," states the MTF study. "But, the rate of decline has been decelerating over the past several years; and in 2005 the decline halted among eighth graders, who have been the bellwethers of smoking among teens."

The percentage of teen smokers reported by MTF in January 2005 was 25 percent of 12th graders, 16 percent of 10th graders and 9 percent of 8th graders. In comparison, the current rates are 23 percent of 12th graders, 15 percent of 10th graders and 9 percent of 8th graders.

The MTF study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was conducted by an annual survey of representative samples of approximately 50,000 students nationwide.

The overall high school smoking rate for Black students is 14 percent, compared to 26 percent for Whites. The CDC reports that the 14 percent for Blacks is a major reduction from 22 percent six years ago. That's one reason the slowing of the trend is so disappointing to health and anti-tobacco advocates.

The study states that the slowing decline is in large part because of the failure of states to use money provided by the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement among attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry that is supposed to help smokers who want to quit.

"Only a handful of states have used this money for its intended purpose," says Cheryl Healton, president and chief executive of the American Legacy Foundation, the nation's only foundation solely focused on tobacco prevention and cessation.

Healton also says a clause in the agreement allowed the tobacco industry to stop payments into a National Public Education Fund in 2003, effectively cutting funding for Legacy's "Truth" campaign, the only national youth tobacco- prevention initiative not directed or controlled by the tobacco industry.

"At a time when only four states - Colorado, Delaware, Maine and Mississippi - have allocated tobacco prevention and cessation budgets at recommended CDC levels, the industry spent $15.4 billion in 2003, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission," Healton says in a statement in response to the MTF study. "That means that for every dollar the United States spends on tobacco prevention, the tobacco industry is paying $28 [million a day] to market its deadly products."

Legacy, National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network the National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention, and other anti-tobacco advocates have engaged in heated battles against youth smoking including a campaign against flavored cigarettes, which they see particularly targeted Black teens to get them hooked. Eighty percent of smokers start before the age of 18, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continues to do damage, Healton states.

"Tobacco use kills 1200 Americans every day and 450,000 every year. More people die from tobacco-related diseases than from AIDS, alcohol use, drugs, fires, car accidents, murders and suicides combined," says Healton. "It is the nation's leading preventable cause of death."

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