1,000 Kids per Day?

A letter to the president of the Medical Association of Georgia
from Cyrus J. Stow, DDS

February 22, 1998

Gwynne T. Brunt, Jr., MD
Medical Association of Georgia
c/o Paul Shanor, Executive Director
1330 W Peachtree St NW, Ste 500
Atlanta, GA 30309 (via e-mail)

Dear Dr. Brunt:

Your organization of physicians, based on the presence of its name within the advertisement itself, apparently supports a full-page advertisement which appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this Sunday, February 22, 1998, page G4, (created by The National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, 1707 L Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036) containing the following statements:

Every Day
Without Action on Tobacco,
1,000 Kids Will Die Early
Every day 3,000 kids become regular smokers;
tobacco will kill 1,000 of them prematurely.

Based upon U.S. Public Health Service mortality data by age groups, only 300 or so American children die each year -- not each day -- from causes which might be attributed to tobacco use while between 10,000 to 13,000 American children die each year as the result of either their own alcohol use or that of others, some due to alcohol overdose as teenage youth although the majority of such alcohol- related deaths in childhood is the outcome of drunken driving.(1)

In short, approximately forty children in the United States meet premature death as children as the result, directly or otherwise, of ethanol use for each child killed in our nation as the result of tobacco use during childhood.

Further, approximately two-thirds of all tobacco-attributed deaths in the United States occurs among men and women 65 years of age or older(1,2) -- individuals whom clearly are not children -- and the use of beverage alcohol in our nation, more importantly, is also responsible for more years of potential life lost from death prior to age 65 years than is tobacco use as well.(3)

Therefore, I submit that the first statement in the advertisement cited above -- the headline in very large type -- is an outright lie in and of itself, and that the second quoted statement above from that same ad is a profoundly misleading distortion of known scientific fact since these children will not be children when they reach the age when they are most likely to die from tobacco use although the ad misleads naive readers, I submit, to believe that such mortality occurs during childhood itself.

To discourage smoking is admirable, doctor. But the practice of supporting a lie and a misleading statement which are not based upon published epidemiologic fact is despicable: the very type of dishonest behavior that many people would expect from the tobacco industry itself, is it not?

I am certainly glad that the Georgia Dental Association did not see fit to support such a dishonest and thus irresponsible anti- tobacco advertisement; perhaps my peers in dentistry place far more importance on the matter of truthfulness than do physicians for the most part, or so it surely seems to me.


Cyrus J. Stow, DDS

cc: William W. Broadfoot, DDS, President, Georgia Dental Association (via e-mail), others (via e-mail)


1. "Advance Report of Final Mortality Statistics, 1991": CDC/National Center for Health Statistics Monthly Vital Statistics Report, August 31, 1993, Vol. 42, No. 2, Supplement. pp. 1-61.
2. "Cigarette Smoking-Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life Lost -- United States, 1990": CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, August 27, 1993, Vol. 42, No. 33, pp. 645-649.
3. Robert W. Amler and Donald L. Eddins, "Cross-sectional Analysis: precursors of premature death in the United States": American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 1987;3(supplement), pp. 181-187.


I am fully aware of what the term libel means. If you or the Medical Association of Georgia wish to sue me for libel, I would be very glad to present copies of the published material in our nation's medical literature as is cited above as evidence in a court of law because I believe that the very lives and well-being of our society's children deserve far more care and protection than organized medicine seems willing, at this time, to grant our nation's youth in real and fully honest terms.

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