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EDITORIAL : JUST SAY: `STOP' PRESIDENT CLINTON SHOULD DESCRIBE HIS PLANS FOR STOPPING TEEN DRUG ABUSE.

When the president of the United States, the leader of the House of Representatives, various younger and photogenic members of Congress, numerous legislative and White House aides and assorted entertainment types admit to doing drugs, is it any wonder that drug use among teens would show a dramatic increase?

Of course, President Clinton never admitted to inhaling marijuana, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich only admitted to brief flirtations with it. Still, the point cannot be lost on people too young to have witnessed the destructive nature of drugs. There seems to be a renewed chic surrounding drugs these days.

Two government reports released Tuesday found that illegal drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds rose 105 percent from 1992 to 1995. In a breakdown of responses on specific drugs, the report found the monthly use of LSD and other hallucinogens by 12th-graders doubled from 1992 to 1995.

Meanwhile, marijuana use among 12- to 17-year-olds rose from 3.4 percent to 8.2 percent; and cocaine use among teens jumped from 0.3 percent in 1992 to 0.8 percent in 1995.

At first glance, those numbers might seem tiny. But there were 22.2 million Americans in that age group last year and 20.7 million in 1992, according to government figures. So the rise in cocaine use by teen-agers, from 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent, actually means that the number jumped from 62,000 children in 1992 to more than 177,000 last year.

While the government figures show that drug use among the population as a whole is not on the increase, it is still disturbing that more and more teens are admitting to doing drugs. Perhaps teens no longer feel peer pressure to ``Just Say No'' to pollsters or to deny using drugs to people who question their drug use.

All the more reason for the White House to strongly, firmly and repeatedly denounce drugs and encourage Congress to restore funding to fight drug abuse. Even the administration's own point man on drugs, Barry McCaffrey, admitted this administration has done ``an inadequate job'' of promoting drug education and prevention.

So what was Clinton's response to the drug report? He announced a stark new program ``to restrict the access and appeal of tobacco products for minors.'' Prevent teens from smoking, and you'll nip LSD, cocaine, heroin and pot use in the bud - apparently, that is the thinking at the White House.

That the Clinton administration would try to brush aside criticism from Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole is not surprising. No leader is eager to admit failure, especially one like Clinton who - while running for president in 1992 - accused President Bush of failing to direct a suitably strong drug-awareness program.

Still, the administration does have a point that political grandstanding on this issue is of little benefit. So we put the question directly to President Clinton: What are you doing to deal with this problem?
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 26, 1996
Words:488
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