Sample Task II Texts

        Researchers calculate that teenage smoking rates, after declining in the 1970’s and leveling off in the 1980’s, have climbed sharply over the last five years. Although everything from why the trend began to what might stop it is disputed, it adds up to a huge heath problem for the country and a public  relations disaster for the tobacco industry.

        Teenage smoking rates are still lower than in the 1970’s, but they are  rapidly increasing. According to the most recent edition of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey, last year the percentage of 12th graders who smoked daily was up 20 percent from 1991. This annual study is widely followed by tobacco researchers. The rate among 10th graders jumped 45 percent, and the rate for 8th graders was up to 44 percent     between 1991 and 1996. At current smoking rates, five million people now younger than 18 will eventually die of tobacco-related illnesses, according to the most recen projections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Rising youth smoking rates have been cited by the Food and Drug Administration and President Clinton as evidence that the industry is  marketing its products to youths and should be restricted by the F.D.A The rates are also fueling demands in many states and nationally for higher taxes on tobacco, based on research showing that price increases typically  discourage teenage smokers.
         Just what has caused the teenage smoking rate to rise so sharply is hotly debated. The Tobacco industry says the increase is due to a broad range of  social forces. Industry officials note that other kinds of risking-taking among   teenagers, especially the use of marijuana and other drugs, have risen more  sharply than tobacco use. The industry also cites teenagers’ naturally rebellious reaction to the increasing efforts to stop them from smoking.
        Critics of the tobacco industry agree that rebelliousness and other forces are at work.  But they say the industry itself is the most important factor.  The industry’s spending on domestic advertising and promotions soared from $361 million in 1970,  to $4.83 billion in 1994, a 250 percent increase after adjusting for inflation,  according to the latest data published by the Federal Trade Commission..
        Just how that huge pie has been divided is a secret closely guarded not only from critics but even among companies in the industry.    Much of the money  goes into promotions to encourage retailers to run sales or to display particular brands and signs more prominently.  Tobacco companies say they have adopted practices to focus their messages on adults, like requiring that all models be-and look-older than 25.
          But critics like John Pierce, head of the Cancer Prevention Center at the University of California at San Diego,  say it is most telling that spending rose most rapidly in the 1980’s, when the decline in youth smoking was halted.  They also point to research showing that children have been strongly attracted to some of the biggest marketing campaigns,  notably R.J. Reynolds Tobacco’s use of the  ever-hip Joe Camel and Philip Morris’ use of the rugged Marlboro man and the Marlboro Adventure Team,  a merchandise promotion.
        The surge in teenage smoking in the 1990’s coincided with a sharp expansion by both Reynolds and Philip Morris in giveaways of items like T-shirts in return for coupons accumulated by buying their cigarettes.   Research  showed that the companies had limited success in preventing distribution of the merchandise to children-30 percent of teenage smokers have it- and that the items are just as appealing to teenagers as to adults.
        Tobacco companies say critics grossly exaggerate the effects of their marketing.  They point out that teenage smoking is also rising in countries where most forms of advertising have been banned. The latest indicator of  the distance between the two sides is  Philip Morris’ creation of a record company-Woman Thing Music-to promote its Virginia Slims brand.  The company will be selling bargain-priced compact disks by its female artists along with its cigarettes.  Its first artist, Martha Byrne, a nonsmoking actress from the soap opera As the World Turns,  is on a concert tour.  She is appearing in venuses where only those older than 21 are allowed.
        Making matters worse, some critics say, is that Hollywood’s long love affair with smoking seems to be heating up.  Cigars are being widely used to symbolize success in movies like The Associate, with Whoopi Goldberg.  And even though today’s stars are not inseparable from their cigarettes the way Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, and James Dean were, actors who show up puffing on cigarettes include John Travolta and Uma Thurman as anti-heroes in Pulp Fiction, and Winona Ryder as a Generation X drifter in Reality Bites.  Leonardo DeCaprio went so far as to light up as Romeo in a last year’s updated Romeo and Juliet.
        Whether smoking in films contributes to the teenage trend or simply picks up on it is one of many questions.  Teenagers say that movie and music stars do shape their sense of what is “cool” and that a desire to be cool is often a reason the youngest smokers first try cigarettes.  But many researchers doubt that an effect can be reliably measured.
Moreover, high school students who smoke regularly say it is so common that no one thinks of it as cool.  Some concede that they enjoy doing something forbidden, but more often they cite a desire to relieve stress or to stay thin, the taste, or simply the need to fill time as reasons they kept smoking to the point of becoming addicted.  Many, like David Bernt of Oak Park, agree with the industry’s contention that its marketing had nothing to do with the decision to smoke but that it does influence brand choice. “If I buy anything but Camel, it feels like I wasted money because I collect Camel cash,” he said, referring to the coupons that can be redeemed for Camel merchandise.
        The increased smoking rates since 1991 are expected to translate into tens of thousands of additional early deaths because one out of three teenage smokers is expected to develop fatal tobacco-related illnesses.  About 46,000 more smokers is expected to develop fatal tobacco-related illnesses.  About 46,000 more 8th graders are smoking at least half a pack a day than would have been smoking had the rate remained at its 1991 level,  and 250,000 more have smoked within the last 30 days than would have at the 1991 rate, judging from the application of census data to results from the Monitoring the Future surveys.  And because of  the rising smoking rate since 1991,  an extra 110,000 10th graders are half-a-pack-a-day smokers, and nearly 366,000 more of them have smoked in the last 30 days.