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January 24, 1996

The AMA, Tobacco, and the Public Health

Author Affiliations

Vice President, STAT University of Massachusetts Worcester

JAMA. 1996;275(4):276-277. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530280028021

To the Editor.  —Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco (STAT) applauds the American Medical Association (AMA) for taking a strong stand against tobacco with the analysis of the Brown and Williamson documents in the July 19,1995, issue of JAMA.1JAMA has done more than any other journal to focus attention on the problem of youth access to tobacco. In our seminal article on this subject in JAMA,2 we promoted a strategy of making it illegal for minors to possess tobacco. The Editorial1 stating "underage use of tobacco should carry consequences for the user" echoes this sentiment. Recent developments make us question the wisdom of this strategy for now.The tobacco industry has sponsored legislation in several states making it illegal for minors to possess tobacco. We believe their intent is to hinder law enforcement efforts and shield themselves from liability. If a child breaks the law by possessing