Surgeon General Report Finds Setbacks In Smoking Prevention.
The release of a Surgeon General’s report regarding tobacco use among youth and young adults sparked moderate coverage, with at least one story leading a national newscast. Stories focused on the severity of the issue, and the Administration’s plans to remedy it.
ABC World News (3/8, story 3, 0:30, Sawyer) reported, “The Surgeon General, sounded an alarm about teenagers and smoking. A new report finds that nearly one in five high school students is smoking. If a child starts smoking in junior high or high school, there’s an 80% chance they’ll be smokers for life. There has been some progress on this front until a decade ago. But that progress has slowed to a crawl. And now, every one of the 443,000 Americans who die each year from smoking is being replaced by two young smokers just starting out.”
NBC Nightly News (3/8, lead story, 3:25, Williams) said the new findings indicate that “every day in this country 3,800 kids pick up their first cigarette,” however, “the overall number of teenagers smoking is down.” NBC’s Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, noted “the Surgeon General says teen smoking is an epidemic,” and “the numbers…are staggering,” as they show that “more than 1,200 Americans die every day due to cigarettes.” NBC (Williams) said the release of the numbers “felt like half a step backward.”
The AP (3/9, Felberbaum) indicates the Surgeon General report says “one in five high-school-aged teens smokes, down from earlier decades, but the rate of decline has slowed.” Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin “said she did not want to point fingers on why youth tobacco use continues in the US, though the report also examined advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies, which have been shown to ’cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults.'”
Bloomberg News (3/9, Armour) quotes HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who said, “Targeted marketing encourages more young people to take up this deadly addiction every day. This administration is committed to doing everything we can to prevent our children from using tobacco.” Charles Connor, president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association, added, “This report underscores the critical importance of preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults. This is a wakeup call to all policymakers and community leaders that tobacco addiction is a vicious and deadly cycle.”
The Austin (TX) American-Statesman (3/9, Roser) quotes Terry Pechacek, associate director for science at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health who supervised production of the report. She said, “While we have known the risks of smoking for a long time, this report clearly shows that the damage starts much quicker and is much more dangerous than previously reported.” Cheryl Perry of Austin, senior scientific editor of the report, added, “The smoking problem with kids is not solved. The tobacco industry is still using a variety of methods that are appealing and reach kids. We still have a lot more to do.”
CQ (3/9, Norman, Subscription Publication) reports, “The report came just a week after a federal judge declared unconstitutional a requirement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that cigarette package labels include graphic warnings designed to deter smoking. … FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said her agency is implementing other parts of the law, such as its ban on candy-flavored cigarettes, ending vending machine sales and requiring people to be at least 18 in order to…purchase smokeless tobacco.”
Also reporting this story are the Los Angeles Times (3/9, Gorman), The Hill (3/9, Pecquet) “Healthwatch” blog, Reuters (3/9, Steenhuysen), MSNBC (3/9), the UK’s Daily Mail (3/9), and MedPage Today (3/9, Walker).