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Reading skills - 'JUST LIKE THAT,' TEENS FIND IT EASY TO SMOKE


Klausimas #1


 'JUST LIKE THAT,' TEENS FIND IT EASY 
TO SMOKE     

 
     GREENWICH, Conn. - As Connecticut lawmakers debated proposals last month to crack down* on cigarette sales to minors*, petite Crissy strolled into a gas station convenience store near Greenwich High School and bought her daily pack of Camel lights.
     A red-and-white 'We Card' warning was prominently displayed on the counter. But there were no questions asked. No ID requested. No sweat.
     'Just like that,' said Crissy, who looks her 16 years of age, as she brandished her Camels and flashed a sly smile.
     'They are going about it the wrong way. This doesn't work,' says Crissy, the daughter of an allergist and a nurse. 'It's an incredible addiction.'
     Indeed, Greenwich's teenagers are part of a chilling, puzzling and discouraging national phenomenon. Though they've never seen a cigarette commercial on TV and have been instructed since grade school about the hazards of smoking, teens are smoking more than at any time since 1979. A study published last week by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 35% of children in grades 9-12 smoke cigarettes. Only 25% of adults smoke. And for the most part teens get the cigarettes just as adults do: They walk in and buy them, and no one checks their age.
     All 50 states already outlaw the sales of cigarettes to minors. Thirty four make possession by minors illegal. But until recently few states have enforced their laws.
   Here in Connecticut, the Legislature is considering raising excise taxes, increasing the $50 penalty for selling to minors to $5,000, and restricting access to cigarette vending machines.
    No single measure is a cure-all. 'All combined have to send a message to young people that it isn't cool to smoke. It will kill and it will cost all of us in medical expenses,' says state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Greenwich resident and a national leader in the anti-tobacco fight. 
     Many underage smokers ridiculed a proposal by Gov. John Rowland to limit vending machine sales by requiring tokens to use them. If packs are sold to them, they say, why wouldn't tokens* be sold to them?
     'They are not going to reject your money,' says Alex, 17, who started smoking regularly two years ago when he was admitted to an adult night-club in nearby Stamford.
     Nationwide, about 3,000 teens under the age of 18 take up smoking each day. That almost equals the number of adults who quit or who die of the diseases it causes.
     'As smoking becomes less popular in adults, smoking becomes a form of rebellion,' says Michael Eriksen, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.
     Too often the rebellion leads to the tragic consequences of a lifelong smoking habit, Eriksen says. More than 80% of all adult smokers started before they were 18. 'They buy it, and by the time they leave high school they can't quit.'
 
(USA TODAY, 1996)
 
to crack down - to take severe measures against; a minor - a person who is still legally a child; a vending machine - a machine from which you can get cigarettes, chocolate, coffee etc. by putting in money and pressing a button; a token - a round flat piece of metal that is sometimes used instead of money; some vending machines accept tokens instead of coins

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