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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Coventry, England)
For Immediate Release                                  December 14, 2000


Today's 2000 Monitoring the Future Survey confirms that we are making real progress in our fight against youth drug and tobacco use. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study released by Secretary Donna Shalala and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey shows teen cigarette use falling sharply across all grades surveyed. The percentage of teenagers reporting cigarette use in the past month dropped by nearly 10 percent among high school seniors, and over 15 percent among 8th-graders. The study also shows that efforts to change student attitudes on tobacco are having a positive impact: more teens now believe that smoking carries risks, while fewer report that cigarettes are readily available. This year also marks the fourth in a row that overall teenage use of illicit drugs has remained stable or declined. In particular, the data shows a significant drop in cocaine use among high school seniors and heroin use among 8th graders in 2000. In combination with the National Household and PRIDE surveys this year, these results demonstrate a continuing downward trend in overall youth drug use.

Today's research shows that the efforts of the Clinton-Gore Administration have put us on the right track to give our children safer, healthier futures. Vice President Gore and I have fought hard to reverse the dangerous youth smoking trends we saw throughout the earlier part of the 1990s. We worked to raise the price of tobacco to keep it out of the hands of children, and urged states to do their part by implementing effective, comprehensive tobacco control and prevention approaches. My Administration also developed the first nationwide plan to protect children from the dangers of tobacco, and I have continued to call on Congress to take further steps, including passing legislation to approve FDA's authority to implement this plan. Meanwhile, our National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign and other initiatives have helped to change attitudes and steer children away from illegal drugs.

These efforts have made a difference, but we cannot afford to let up in this fight. Today's results also show emerging threats, such as increased ecstasy use, while also reminding us that the overall levels of youth drug, tobacco, and alcohol use remain unacceptably high. I urge the next Congress to support these proven efforts to give our children the safe and healthy futures that they deserve.