New Kids Smoking in Iowa Since
DES MOINES-- Attorney General Tom Miller said Thursday that 10,000 Iowa young people have taken up smoking since Iowa and dozens of others states reached a settlement with the tobacco industry on Nov. 23, 1998.
"Thirty-three Iowa kids start smoking every day. That's a thousand a month and 10,000 since the settlement became final ten months ago," Miller said. "This is a deadly milestone."
Miller said one-third of smokers are doomed to premature illness and death from tobacco-related disease. Almost five thousand Iowans die from tobacco every year -- over 4,100 since the settlement was reached ten months ago.
Under the "Master Settlement Agreement" which settled lawsuits by Iowa and many other states, the tobacco industry will pay Iowa more than $1.9 billion over the next 25 years, and similar payments for the foreseeable future after that. Iowa's first payment of $76.6 million is due no later than June 30, 2000 -- and Miller is urging the Legislature to appropriate $20.5 million, under one-third of the money, for a comprehensive program to reduce the health costs and financial drain of tobacco. Miller said Iowa's program would adopt strategies pioneered in other states that are succeeding in reducing youth smoking and access to tobacco.
"We need to stop the march of so many Iowa kids toward tobacco addiction and death," Miller said.