"We have come a long way since the days of smoking on airplanes and in college classrooms, but we have a long way to go," Secretary of Health and Human Resources Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement accompanying the latest report. "The prosperity and health of our nation depend on it."
In a statement Thursday, Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., parent company of the nation's largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, which makes the top-selling Marlboro brand, said it agrees that kids shouldn't use tobacco products and that it markets its products to adult tobacco users through age-verified direct communications and at retail stores.
"Underage tobacco use is a difficult issue, and there is not a simple solution," the company said. "We agree there's still more work to be done."
In concert with the report, the surgeon general's office is launching a contest for young people to submit videos on the report's findings that will ultimately chosen by the public to win cash prizes.
Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.