November 22, 1998
Members of the Albuquerque based tobacco-reduction coalition, TobaccoFreedom.org, announced
today their dismay with New Mexico Attorney General Tom Udall's hasty decision to accept the
proposed settlement with the tobacco industry.
Nicholas Bonney, a senior at Albuquerque's
St. Pius X High School, stated that he was shocked that Mr. Udall would
sign the agreement so quickly and without allowing the public and various
experts time to review the proposal. Bonney also noted that his school
civics class had recently discussed the Administrative Procedures Acts.
This act generally requires public review and comment for a period of at
least 30 to 60 days before the adoption of major policies.
The settlement includes a twenty-five year deal worth an estimated 1.2
billion dollars. Bonney said, "This is definitely a major policy decision.
I feel cheated. Since I am only 17, I have not been able to vote. Mr. Udall
is not, therefore, my representative. Yet I will have to live with this
deal for most of my life. This deal affects not only me, but also my future
Felicia Chavez, a junior at Albuquerque
Academy, stated that she is generally disappointed that there has been
so much emphasis on the money issue. People are congratulating the various
attorneys general in their respective states because they got some money
out of the tobacco industry. I haven't heard many people talking about
reducing the number of deaths.
At present, 434,000 people a year prematurely die from tobacco-related illnesses
and diseases. Approximately 70,000 more die prematurely from second-hand
smoke. This is half a million people a year. This means that over the course
of the 25-year deal, we estimate that nearly 13 million people will die.
Chavez stated, "I don't understand the adults in our country. To me,
money is never more important than a person's life."
The two spokespersons were also troubled that the settlement allowed
for continued tobacco advertising. While the agreement stipulates that
billboard and transit advertising would stop, it allows for advertising
on poster-size formats as well as print mediums like magazines. What is
scary is that they can place their posters in sports arenas, video arcades
and other places that teens and children hang out. The tobacco industry
currently spends about $6 billion on advertising and promotion.
Felicia and Nicholas both believe that advertising encourages many teens
to try tobacco products. Ms. Chavez noted, "Tobacco advertising is
all over the place in our neighborhood. I am sick of it. Why do adults
allow this deceitful industry and their nasty, deadly products around us."
Chavez further agrees with Bonney. She is upset that she hasn't been allow
to vote and now she is forced to live with a bad deal - a bad deal for
her and for her future children. Chavez stated, "I don't think that
I, as a teen, or any New Mexico citizens for that matter, were granted
their rights for due process in this matter. I don't think that Mr. Udall
acted in good faith for the New Mexico public on this one."
TobaccoFreedom.org provides additional and comprehensive information about
the proposed Attorneys General settlement, including comments from various health organizations and policy
advocates on their Web site.