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Teen Health

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Youth Smoking Rates Hit Standstill

States, Industry Blamed for Slowdown

Antismoking Efforts Slowing continued...

"In 2004, we didn't advertise in magazines at all," she says.

But Corr notes that Philip Morris and other companies have made up for advertising cuts by greatly increased spending on price promotions and subsidies that help retailers lower the cost of cigarettes at retail counters. Nearly $8 billion of the industry's $12.5 billion in total tobacco promotions in 2002 went to such subsidies, he says.

"They have used their marketing and promotion allowances to encourage retailers to cut pricing, and that makes cigarettes more attractive to youth," Corr says.

Golisch said that the overall rise in the retail price of cigarettes has increased the cost of offering price promotions, accounting for the billions in spending.

CDC officials also point to a steep drop in state spending on tobacco prevention and control efforts, brought about in large part by near-ubiquitous budget crises. Spending for the programs dropped from $750 billion in fiscal 2002 to $543 billion in fiscal 2004, a figure which now represents just 3% of all funds available to states for tobacco prevention from the Master Settlement and from cigarette taxes.

"You would never see state legislatures cutting back on child immunization, yet they cut back on smoking immunization that we know works," Corr says.

Meanwhile, supporters of giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products and all aspects of their advertising pegged Thursday's report as evidence of the need for stricter cigarette regulations.

"The CDC report shows how critical it is to pass laws that will crack down on youth smoking," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said through a spokesperson. "We cannot in good conscience allow the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency most responsible for protecting the public health, to remain powerless to deal with the enormous risks of tobacco -- the most deadly of all consumer products," he said.

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