Letters

By Kropp, Rick | The Christian Science Monitor, December 4, 1997 | Go to article overview

Letters


Kropp, Rick, The Christian Science Monitor


Antismoking Efforts Need More Than Money

As an eight-year veteran of California's Proposition 99-funded, statewide tobacco- control program, I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of "Wind Shift in California's Battle Against Teen Smoking" (Nov. 28).

California's well-funded program to reduce teen smoking has not been effective, especially its multimillion-dollar antitobacco media campaign. And after all these years, state and local health officials still don't know what really works to reduce and prevent youth tobacco use. Throwing money at this critical public-health problem does not appear to be the answer. However, this lack of success in curbing teen smoking is not necessarily due to reasons cited in the article. For example, attributing the rise in teen smoking to funding cuts in the tobacco-control program that is ludicrous. Groups make this claim use it for political purposes to regain illegally diverted funds. These groups seem more interested in getting all the funds than reducing youth tobacco use. In addition, I respectfully disagree with my colleague Dr. Stan Glantz at the University of California at San Francisco: The California tobacco-control program has always had an adult focus, especially in the early 1990s when the emphasis was on smoke-free workplaces and restaurants and curbing adult smoking through cessation services. This adult focus continues today with, for example, our new smoke-free bars law going into effect Jan. 1. The adult focus and youth focus of the California program is a balanced, comprehensive, and integrated approach to achieving a smoke-free society. Dr. John Pierce, of the University of California at San Diego, is right on the mark in faulting the tobacco industry's insidious recruitment and marketing activities targeting young people. But while tobacco advertising and promotion is a significant contributing factor in youth tobacco initiation, experimentation, and use, as Dr. Pierce's research clearly shows, tobacco marketing is only part of the problem. Groups and individuals pushing unilateral, simplistic solutions are looking for a quick and easy answer to teen smoking. …

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