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With the August 1996 publication of a final rule on tobacco in the Federal Register the Food and Drug Administration FDA will regulate the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to children and adolescents The action results from the agencys assertion of jurisdiction over tobacco products This was based on an intensive FDA investigation of the tobacco industry tobacco use and its health consequences The rule will prohibit the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to those under 18 while leaving them on the market for adults Tobacco use is the single leading preventable cause of death in the United States It kills more than 400000 Americans each year -- more people each year than AIDS car accidents alcohol homicides illegal drugs suicides and fires combined The use of tobacco products and the resulting nicotine addiction begins predominantly in children and adolescents and is consequently a pediatric disease Approximately 3 million American adolescents currently smoke and an additional 1 million adolescent males use smokeless tobacco Each year another 1 million young people become regular smokers Approximately one out of every three of these young people will die prematurely as a result Studies suggest that anyone who does not begin to use tobacco as a child or adolescent is unlikely to start as an adult Eighty-two percent of adults who ever smoked had their first cigarette before age 18 and more than half of them had already become regular smokers by that age Among smokers ages 12 to 17 years 70 percent already regret their decision to smoke and 66 percent say that they want to quit Furthermore studies show that children and adolescents are starting to smoke at earlier and earlier ages Data reported in December 1995 showed that the proportion of 8th- and 10th-graders who reported smoking in the 30 days before the survey had risen by one-third since 1991 to about 19 percent and 28 percent respectively Similar
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