Protecting Youth from
Alcoholism and Drugs

25 Sep 1999

1. The African-American Museum (Detroit) has exhibits on slavery. For example, there are life-size statues of children, slaves. During slavery, slavers targeted children to be kidnaped, captured, and enslaved. Are children safe now from slavery? Let's think about it. Now there is chemical slavery. Children are still being targeted, especially minority children. See E. A. Klonoff, et al, Sales of Cigarettes to Minors, 87 Am J Pub Health 823-6 (May 1997), and the Surgeon General Report, Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups (1998). There are more cigarette and alcohol billboards in minority areas, more liquor stores in higher percentages. No, children are not safe yet.

2. Slavers targeted children during slavery, and they still do. They wanted children for tobacco, to grow it. Now slavers are called "pushers." They still want children for tobacco, to use it. Modern slavers know that cigarettes are the gateway drug, the starter drug, with the average age of onset, around age 12. Once the pusher has captured the child with that slave chemical, alcohol disproportionately follows, age 12.6; then marijuana, age 14. See the DHEW book, Research on Smoking Behavior, Research Monograph 17, page vi; Fleming, et al., "The Role of Cigarettes in The Initiation And Progression Of Early Substance Use," 14 Addictive Behaviors 261-272 (1989); and the DHHS book, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General (1994). Page 10 warns that "Illegal sales of tobacco products are common."

3. Adults would rarely, if ever, smoke if they had not been illegally sold cigarettes as children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to protect children, wrote "Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents." 61 Fed Reg 44,396 (28 Aug 1996) (now 21 CFR 801). The FDA found that "cigarette and smokeless tobacco use begins almost exclusively in childhood and adolescence." 61 Fed Reg 45239. Children are particularly vulnerable to Madison Avenue exhortations, plastered on racing cars and outfield fences, to be cool and smoke, be manly and chew, and the FDA found "compelling evidence that promotional campaigns can be extremely effective in attracting young people to tobacco products." Id. at 45247. This was true, for example, even in the 1920's. Pushers hooked 30% of 6 year old boys; 50% of "boys between 9 and 10"; 88% of boys over 11. See Dixon, On Tobacco, 17 Canadian Med Ass'n J 1531 (Dec 1927).

4. Michigan was an abolitionist state, was a leader against slavery. Our ancestors knew tobacco was a slave product. As we used to boycott South Africa, they boycotted tobacco, to fight slavery. They even passed a law to ban cigarettes. That law is MCL 750.27, MSA 28.216. Regular slavery was illegal, so is chemical slavery. The problem is, the police didn't enforce the anti-slavery law back then. And they don't enforce the law against cigarettes now. We are on our own. We must protect ourselves and each other, be our brothers' keepers. Our ancestors had to watch out to avoid getting caught by a slaver. We too have to watch out to avoid being caught by a chemical slaver.

5. We've all heard of speed limits. "Don't exceed a certain number." Cigarette emissions have high levels of toxic chemicals (poisons). Those poisons exceed the "speed limits" for chemicals. (The numbers are in a regulation, 29 CFR 1910.1000, available at your local library). The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (DHEW) book, Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, PHS Pub 1103, Table 4, p 60 (1964), lists examples of cigarette emissions above the limits:

Illegally Unsafe Above
acetaldehyde 3,200 ppm 200.0 ppm
acrolein 150 ppm 0.5 ppm
ammonia 300 ppm 150.0 ppm
carbon monoxide 42,000 ppm 100.0 ppm
formaldehyde 30 ppm 5.0 ppm
hydrogen cyanide 1,600 ppm 10.0 ppm
hydrogen sulfide 40 ppm 20.0 ppm
methyl chloride 1,200 ppm 100.0 ppm
nitrogen dioxide 250 ppm 5.0 ppm

6. Many of us have heard of cigarettes as leading to, for example, lung cancer. But there are other things it leads to, that can ruin a child's life. The Surgeon General calls cigarettes the No. 1 cause of disease. That leads to suffering. Think about it. Some suffering leads to self-medicating by alcohol. "Smoking prevalence among active alcoholics approaches 90%." See J. T. Hayes, et al "Alcoholism and Nicotine Dependence Treatment," 15 Journal of Addictive Diseases 135 (1996). Or even a 100%, "all of those who become alcohol addicts, in the experience of this writer [Wood] were first tobacco addicts." See Frank L. Wood, M.D., What You Should Know About Tobacco (Wichita, KS: The Wichita Publishing Co, 1944), p 143.

7. When the tobacco-disease-caused suffering cannot be controlled, others end in suicide, so "smokers have excesses of suicide: risks; thoughts; attempts; and deaths . . . Suicide [is] strongly . . . associated with smoking . . . independent of age, gender, exercise, cholesterol, race, low local income, diabetes, MI [myocardial infarction], etc. [variables]. Ex-smokers had lower suicide rates than current smokers. The pooled dose-response statistic [is] highly significant. . . . Suicide is prospectively, independently, consistently, strongly, and highly significantly dose-response associated with smoking." See B. N. Leistikow, et al., "A Meta-Analysis of the Prospective Association Between Smoking and Suicide," 15 Journal of Addictive Diseases 141 (1996).

8. We could cite many more examples. To help protect youth, there are things we can teach them.

a. to use the library. It is not just for fun, it has a practical aspect. We can show the youth areas they otherwise might not notice, areas where laws, regulations, and medical references, are located. Michigan laws are in blue or brown, federal are in brown. Regulations are generally in paperback.

b. to use the inter-loan system. Medical references are not always available in any specific local library. So we can introduce the youth to the concept of inter-library loans. As a practice exercise, obtain one or more of the medical references listed here. The youth can then observe how it is done, and realize that there is a world of information that is otherwise unseen.

c. to learn respect for medical reference material. That is something that is generally overlooked in schools. Our children are the future leaders. They need to know what current leaders have often overlooked, the existence of professional research on subjects that government officials must decide, too often without researching first.

d. to use the Internet. Computers are here, they are not just the wave of the future. With search engines, children and adults can find information not otherwise available. For example, this writer has posted much data on this subject, essentially not accessible except on the Internet.

9. In life, children will be facing obstacles, and people offering disinformation and scams. Tobacco is a prime example, deceiving and harming many. We don't want to alarm children with an overly pessimistic view. But as they mature, they need the benefit of our experience, and that of others who have devoted their lives to developing expertise in whatever subject is of concern. They especially need to know how to evaluate information, by learning the process of obtaining information from impartial professional analysts of the subject, not just this subject, but any subject.

10. We live in a democracy. Officials respond to campaign contributors and to letter writing. We can teach children which officials have authority over various subjects, and to write to them to ask for action that conforms to medical fact. Leaders are often pressured to disregard such material. Youth can learn the lobbying process at a young age. By teaching them in a focused way, they will have an advantage that many of us adults did not have. As a practice exercise, we can encourage children to write to the governor, urging enforcement of the cigarette control law, MCL 750.27, MSA 28.216. His address is Honorable John Engler, Governor, State of Michigan, P. O. Box 30013, Lansing MI 48909-7513. Encourage them to suggest others to whom to write.

11. This material is merely an overview of a vast subject. There is much more. Perhaps someday this material, now scattered in many medical journals and books, will be consolidated in one volume. But for now, it is consolidated at the writer's websites on the Internet. Here are examples (many of which have links to other related material):

Drug Abuse,
Michigan's Cigarette Law,
Tobacco Ingredients,
This Youth Site,

Discussion Group: More Participants Welcome

Copyright 1999 Leroy J. Pletten