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HEALTH GROUPS URGE CONGRESS TO DO THE RIGHT THING

 HEALTH GROUPS URGE CONGRESS TO DO THE RIGHT THING
 LOS ANGELES, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Cancer Society,


American Heart Association and American Lung Association want to know why Rep. William Dannemeyer, R-Calif., voted against a federal reauthorization bill amendment that would have required states to enforce existing laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors.
 "We are concerned that there are members of Congress who are looking out for the interest of the tobacco industry rather than the health interests of their constituents," said Kenneth G. Hickman, Ph.D., chairman of the American Cancer Society, California Division.
 The amendment, introduced by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., was attached to bill H.R. 3698, a reauthorization of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Block Grant program, which provides funds to states for programs such as alcohol and drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation. The amendment would have required states to enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to persons under 18 in order to receive the block grants. States that do not have existing laws would be required to adopt such laws.
 "This should have been a sensible and reasonable amendment for everyone who is committed to reducing smoking among young people," said Hickman.
 According to Hickman, the Waxman amendment was defeated and replaced with a "watered-down," "tobacco industry-backed" amendment that would not require states to enforce existing laws on selling tobacco products to minors.
 "We can't see any reason to vote against this proposal except to please the tobacco industry," said Hickman.
 Rep. Danneymeyer is a member of the House Health and the Environment Subcommittee which voted on the amendment to H.R. 3698.
 Hickman noted that these actions by our representatives in Congress bring into question whose interests are being served when consumer health and safety legislation is being considered far away on Capital Hill.
 "Tobacco products kill more than 434,000 Americans each year and yet the tobacco industry is still blatantly targeting young people, through ad campaigns like "Joe Camel" and "Kool Penguin," to take up this deadly addiction. How can our members of Congress choose to ignore these facts?" said Hickman.
 Hickman noted that the most recent national school-based Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, found that 32.1 percent of 9th graders (14-15 year olds) had used tobacco within the past month.
 "National leaders including the U.S. Surgeon General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the new national Drug "Czar" have joined virtually every health and medical organization worldwide in recognizing the health hazards of tobacco use and in calling for a stop to the shameless marketing of tobacco products to young people," said Hickman. "It's time our representatives in Congress paid attention to this national outcry and said no to tobacco interests and yes to public health."
 -0- 11/12/91
 /CONTACT: Carmen Ulmer of the American Cancer Society, 213-736-5075/ CO: American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American
 Lung Association ST: California IN: HEA SU: SE-EH -- LA029 -- 3704 11/12/91 19:26 EST
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Date:Nov 12, 1991
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