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New Washington Center Founded to Fight Youth Tobacco Use


May 1996

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids announced on February 12 that a new national organization centered in Washington, DC and focusing on youth tobacco use prevention would open this summer (News Release, "Multi-Million Dollar Center Founded to Curb Tobacco Use By Children," Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, February 12, 1996; "Center Formed to Curb Tobacco Use by Children," Substance Abuse Letter, February 20, 1996, p. 5).

The National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids will open in June with $30 million in grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The American Cancer Society, the Annie B. Casey Foundation, the Conrad Hilton Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the American Medical Association.

The Center will focus on promoting policies to reduce youth tobacco use and countering tobacco industry interests. William D. Novelli, Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, will serve as the Center's president.

"For decades our families and communities have been manipulated by the tobacco industry, a powerful force that spends billions to attract kids, to control special interest politics and to protect its profits," Novelli said in a statement. "We'll never match them dollar for dollar, but this bold initiative will have the resources to keep tobacco companies from addicting new generations of smokers."

University of California Professor Stanton Glantz, an anti-smoking advocate, called the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids "a total waste of money" (Barnaby J. Feder, "Critic Calls Anti-Smoking Drive Misdirected," New York Times, April 1, 1996, p. A12).

He has argued that a youth-centered anti-smoking emphasis indirectly reinforces the tobacco industry message that smoking by adults is acceptable and pleasurable. The focus on youth smoking also takes attention away from other reforms, such as instituting a national smoking ban in workplaces.

Other advocates criticized Glantz for splitting the anti-smoking movement. "You don't need to have someone saying you should focus on something else just when you are about to achieve some of your goals," said Bill Godshall, head of Smoke-Free Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh.

[For more information about the new center, contact the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 1707 L Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036, 202-296-5469.]