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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 31, 2000


Today's 1999 National Household Survey demonstrates that we are continuing to move in the right direction on the problem of youth drug and tobacco use in America. The report released by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey shows that last year, illicit drug use by young people ages 12-17 declined, continuing a downward trend over the last three years. Since 1997, overall youth drug use is down by more than 20 percent, and youth marijuana use has declined by over 25 percent. In addition, while today's report shows underage alcohol use is still at unacceptable levels, it also shows that tobacco use among young people is beginning to decline significantly, following a period of increases earlier in the 1990's.

These findings prove that we are successfully reversing dangerous trends and making important progress. However, none of us can afford to let down our guard in the fight against drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse -- especially when it comes to our children. While we must continue to engage communities, parents, teachers and young people in our efforts to drive youth drug and tobacco use down to even lower levels, Congress must also play an important role.

When Congress returns to Washington, I urge them to build on our success by fully funding my Administration's substance abuse prevention and treatment initiatives, including the Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which is sending a powerful message to young people across the nation about the dangers of drugs. Congress should also join Vice President Gore and me in making the health of our children a priority by rejecting the interests of big tobacco and letting the American taxpayers have their day in court. Working together, we can give our children healthy drug- and tobacco-free futures.