Gary wants closer watch on tobacco sales to minors Report on cancer spurs call for law enforcement

April 18, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,SUN STAFF

County Executive John G. Gary yesterday called for police to begin enforcing laws that prevent merchants from selling tobacco products to minors.

At a news conference announcing the final report of the county's Cancer Control Task Force, Mr. Gary said that enforcing laws that already exist will protect young people from the risk of

developing cancer.

"The tobacco issue is an issue we can work on," Mr. Gary said. "We need to talk to the police to tell the merchants about selling tobacco products to youngsters. You have to be constantly working on it because we have a new crop of young people coming up."

Tom R. Jones, a spokesman for the county police, said the department will support Mr. Gary "100 percent." He acknowledged, however, that Chief Robert A. Beck did not give officers specific orders to crack down on illegal tobacco sales yesterday.

Chief Beck agreed to work with health department officials on efforts to curb teen-age smoking.

"We've got to do something about this," he said.

The report showed that most cancer deaths in the county are a result of tobacco use, high-fat and low-fiber diets and a lack of early detection.

The county's cancer rate would drop by a third, taking it from the highest in the state to well below state and national averages, if residents exercised regularly, ate healthy diets and got regular checkups, the report said.

"I hope the people of Anne Arundel County will no longer discount their personal responsibility in cancer prevention," said Patricia H. Troy, task force chairman. "We would rather not be responsible for it; we'd like to say the government will take care of it, but we can't."

The report said that environmental and physical factors, such as living near a toxic waste dump, accounted for only 5.5 percent of cancers in county residents.

The 17-member task force spent two years studying written data, including death certificates, and hearing presentations from experts in the health field before drafting its report.

Members formed three subcommittees to study high-level cancer risks, environmental risks and cancer death rates.

Mr. Gary said the county Health Department will use the task force report to plan anti-smoking campaigns.

"This is a starting point for the government to educate the public to make themselves aware of how to prevent cancer in the future," Mr. Gary said.

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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