Problems With Teen Smoking in America Teen smoking is a serious problem in the United States because the tobacco industry targets teenagers with their persuasive advertising. We see often in public places, teenagers who are standing around, smoking cigarettes. Recently, there has been legislation that has been turned down by Republicans in Congress, which was supposed to send a strong message to the tobacco industry. While this legislation was turned down, President Bill Clinton has vowed to continue his efforts to lower the rates of teen smoking. Yes, this problem steadily increases and the age groups become younger, but the problem will get worse if Congress does not try to target the tobacco industry. Many teen smokers take up smoking as a daily habit. The number of teen smokers has increased to 73 percent between 1988 and 1996. This percentage was proposed on October 8, 1998. More than 1.2 million Americans under the age of eighteen started smoking daily in 1996, up from an estimated 708,000 in 1988. The rate teens become teen smokers has also increased up to fifty percent. In 1996, 77 out of every 1, 000 nonsmoking teens picked up the habit. In 1988, the rate was 51 per 1,000. The study was based on surveys of 78,330 Americans between the ages of 12 and 66 conducted by the CDC between 1994 and 1997. They asked if they ever had a daily smoking habit and if so, when they started. They were also asked when they smoked their first cigarette. There have been recent studies that prove that increasing the prices of tobacco will reduce the number of teen smokers. The tobacco companies know that increasing the price of tobacco will decrease teen smoking. Tobacco companies deny that they are increasing the prices of tobacco, but they still continue to recruit new smokers who are young. An estimated 420,000 teenagers were prevented from becoming smokers due to price increases in tobacco. The tobacco industry, on the other hand, is conducting a multi-million dollar campaign disinforming the public that they are not increasing prices to reduce teen smoking. There have been numerous economic researches in peer-reviewed journals about price increases in tobacco. Research proves in these documented journals that increase in the price of cigarettes will reduce teen smoking by seven percent. The tobacco industry is almost fully reliant on teenagers. According to a web site sponsored by the American Lung Association of Gulf Coast Florida, those who die from smoking each year, plus those who quit the daily habit, are replaced by one million teenagers who begin smoking annually (“American Lung Association”). The tobacco industry has its own words to say about price increase on cigarettes. The industry claims that price increases are disastrous and ineffective for the tobacco industry and other industries. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sponsored a Tobacco Bill to ban all advertisements of cigarettes and an effort to help stop teen smoking. The Republicans in Congress turned it down. It was turned down because it was too expensive. The cost of this bill would have cost an estimated $52 billion dollars a year to send out strong messages to these tobacco companies. I think that it should have been used because there are so many other things that our nation's budget spends on each year that does not seem as important. Teen smoking is a real serious issue because later on these teenagers will have some serious health problems. I see my friends smoking and I tell them that it will cause some serious health problems for them in the future. After the defeat of the tobacco bill in the senate, President Clinton scolded Senate Republicans for “Walking away from its obligation to our children” (qtd. in Kaleidoscope Interactive). He also called for the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct an annual national survey of the cigarette brands most frequently used by teenagers. “I’m instructing the Department of Health and Human services to produce the first-ever annual survey on the brands of cigarettes teenagers smoke, and which companies are most responsible for the problem”(qtd. in Kaleidoscope Interactive). Parents should know of this problem and they should also have the right to know. Public health officials can use this information to reduce teen smoking and to raise awareness of the problem. The survey was part of the $516 billion measure revoked by Republican Senate leaders. It was supposed to be used to enforce penalties against tobacco companies that did not succeed in reducing teen smoking to levels set in the legislation. President Clinton called out the tobacco companies, which have angrily opposed this survey. “Once this information becomes public, companies will then no longer be able to evade accountability, and neither will congress,” stated by Bill Clinton in an interview with the press outside the oval office (qtd. in Kaleidoscope Interactive). “From now on the new data will help to hold tobacco companies accountable for targeting children" (qtd. in Kaleidoscope Interactive). The President cannot levy fines against the tobacco industry with out approval from Congress, however, he is confident that the survey will help his Congressional allies more information against the tobacco industry. If the survey is used, it will show that teens prefer particular brands, one brand to another. It will then be used as evidence that a particular manufacturer is marketing to teens, which is illegal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said tobacco ads that rely on giveaways and childish cartoons were to blame. Advertising persuades teens to buy cigarettes. Since the Joe Camel Cartoon, Camel brand cigarette’ share of teen smokers has increased from 0.5 percent to 32.8 percent. About 30 percent of three-year-olds and 90 percent of six-year-olds recognize Joe Camel and associate him with Camel Cigarettes. The Tobacco Institute and R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the maker of Camel Cigarettes and creator of Joe Camel, had no comment. The tobacco industry has insisted it does not target teen-agers with its advertising. Daily smoking rates begin increasing steadily again in 1988, the same year R. J. Reynolds introduced Joe Camel in advertising for Camel cigarettes, the CDC said. Joe Camel was retired in 1997, after it was used for a bad example for cigarette marketing aimed at children by critics, including President Bill Clinton. I had a recent interview with a student at Worth County High School. His name is Scott Ferguson. He was a former classmate and a friend. He smoked while I was in high school. I asked him did he still smoke, and he said that he did. I asked him for how long and he said that he had been smoking since he was thirteen. I asked him what brand of cigarette he smoked, and he said that he smoked Marlboro Lights. I asked him why does he smoke, and he replied by saying, “I started when I was young and now I just can’t stop” (Ferguson, Oct. 12, 1999). Teen smoking is a serious problem. I would like to see teenagers who are not smoking. I would like to hear that Congress has approved of the Tobacco Bill and not some other less important bill. This problem will continue to get worse if the tobacco industry does not stop its persuasive advertising.