Congratulating students of Byrd Elementary School for their anti-smoking program

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                            SMOKING PROGRAM


                           HON. MARGE ROUKEMA

                            OF NEW JERSEY


                        Tuesday, March 23, 1999

  Mrs. ROUKEMA. Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the students of
Byrd Elementary School in Glen Rock, New Jersey, on their efforts to
spread the word about the dangers of smoking. The students, assisted by
representatives of the New Jersey Breathes program, are conducting a
week-long tobacco awareness program, including a school-wide assembly,
demonstrations, a poster contest and a composition contest. In
addition, the school nurse, Ms. Judy Mullane, has visited each class to
discuss smoking and health. The initiatives taken by these students,
their teachers and the school district should be commended and mirrored
in schools across our nation. As a former teacher myself, I know how
extremely important it is to teach children to say no to tobacco. This
is a problem that adds thousands of children to the tobacco addiction
rolls every day. One of the most effective ways to stop it is through
educational initiatives similar to the one we are seeing at Byrd
Elementary School.
  As a Member of Congress, I have long supported legislation that would
limit the spread of tobacco addiction to young people. It is essential
that we stand up for the health of our children and help keep them from
becoming addicted to the most widespread drug threatening our society--
tobacco. The average smoker takes his or her first puff of a cigarette
at age 11. If adults choose to smoke, that's a poor decision but one
they are allowed to make for themselves. But if children are lured into
smoking, that is a moral crime and should be a statutory crime.
  Last year, I was a co-sponsor of the NOT for Kids Act, which would
raise the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1.50 over 3 years. Raising
the price of cigarettes has a direct and measurable impact on reducing
smoking among children. From 1982 to 1992, the price of cigarettes went
up 50 percent and the percentage of teen-agers who smoke steadily
dropped. Cigarette prices leveled off in 1992 and we've seen an
increase since.
  I have also supported the national settlement of tobacco lawsuits.
First, we must be certain that none of the settlement money is diverted
by the federal government. To ensure that, I have co-sponsored H.R.
351. At least part of the money from these settlements should be used
for public education programs about the dangers of smoking to young
people. These programs should be directed at our young people through
their schools so that we can reach them before it is too late. It is
far more effective to prevent tobacco addiction that to stop it once it
has begun.
  It is important to note that the anti-smoking effort in Glen Rock
goes beyond the school system. Matthew Kopacki, owner of Rock Ridge
Pharmacy, has stopped selling cigarettes in his pharmacy after the
death of one of his employees from lung cancer. Mayor Jacquelyn Kort is
among those speaking at Byrd Elementary School. And the New Jersey
Breathes program is being supported by the Robert Wood Johnson
  I would like to ask all my colleagues in the U.S. House of
Representatives to join me in thanking Principal Hal Knapp, Mayor Kort,
Nurse Mullane, Mr. Kopacki, New Jersey Breathes Director Dr. Larry
Downs and all the teachers and other staff involved in this important
project. But beyond this group, I want to make a special appeal to the
parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, big sisters and brothers and all
other adults who play an influential role in the lives of the students
of Byrd Elementary School. We all know that children imitate the
behavior of adults. Please set a good example for these and all
children by not smoking.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).