Health Column

June 06, 1990 2 min read

Tobacco companies and the government make large profits off of the sale of tobacco products to children, a new study has concluded.

The study, which appeared in the May 23 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that more than 3 million children under the age of 18 consume 947 million packs of cigarettes and 26 million containers of smokeless tobacco each year.

Such consumption accounts for $1.26 billion in tobacco sales, the study said.

The study, conducted by a physician at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the chief operating officer of the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., concluded that about 3 percent of tobacco-industry profits--$221 million in 1988--was derived from the sale of tobacco products to children. Such purchases, they note, are illegal in 43 states.

About half the industry’s entire profits, or $3.35 billion annually, comes from sales to people who became addicted to nicotine as children, they said.

The federal government collects $152 million annually in tax revenues on the sale of tobacco products to minors, and states take in a total of $173 million annually from such taxes, the study said.

Both figures are far larger than the amount of public money spent on anti-smoking efforts, the researchers concluded.

Nearly two-thirds of the daughters of a group of black, adolescent mothers did not become mothers themselves as teenagers, a new study has found.

The study, which appeared in the March/April issue of Family Planning Perspectives, challenges the common view that the children of adolescent mothers are likely to give birth while still teenagers.

The fact that two-thirds of the daughters of teenage mothers were not parents “shows that daughters do not necessarily, ‘inherit’ early childbearing from their mothers,” the study said.

The study, which was conducted by two researchers from the University of Pennslvania and a researcher from the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., was based on interviews with 404 teenage mothers in Baltimore between 1966 and 1968, and with 253 of their children 20 years later.

Compared with the children of older mothers, the Baltimore offspring were more sexually active and more likely to get pregnant. The study found that about half of the daughters of teenage mothers became pregnant as adolescents, and about one-third of them gave birth.

Those who gave birth, the researchers said, had more modest educational and financial prospects than their mothers did at the same age, and were less likely to be married.


A version of this article appeared in the June 06, 1990 edition of Education Week as Health Column