Adult Smoking Rate Levels Off

ATLANTA--Despite years of anti-smoking campaigns, lawsuits and bans, the smoking rate among American adults has hardly budged during the 1990s because more and more 18- to 24-year-olds are lighting up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday that 24.7 percent of adults smoked in 1997. As a result, the CDC expects to fall far short of its goal of reducing smoking to 15 percent of the adult population by 2000. In 1965, 44 percent of adults smoked, but warnings and bans of tobacco ads and smoking in offices, airplanes and many restaurants cut the rate to 25.5 percent by 1990.

"During the 1990s we've made virtually no progress whatsoever," said Michael Eriksen, director of the CDC Office of Smoking and Health. "The fact that we can't get rates below 25 percent really speaks to the addictive power of nicotine."

About 48 million adults smoked cigarettes in 1997, according to a CDC survey that year of more than 35,000 people nationwide. The rate was the same--24.7 percent--in 1995.

Among most adult age groups, smoking rates actually declined from 1990 to 1997, but the percentage of smokers ages 18 to 24 increased during that period, from 24.5 percent to 28.7 percent.

In Miami, meanwhile, jurors in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the tobacco industry were ordered not to see the new movie "The Insider," about a cigarette company executive who becomes a whiste-blower.


* PIERRE, S.D.--The cockpit voice recorder from Payne Stewart's shattered Learjet has yielded various noises but no voices from the final moments of the doomed flight--just as investigators expected. But National Transportation Safety Board officials said the noises could help establish the cause of the accident that killed the golfer and five others Oct. 25.

* DALLAS--Kay Burt, at 48 one of the longest-surviving kidney transplant recipients in the nation, is to receive another new kidney next week, this time from her daughter, Cherry Austin, 28. Burt's first transplant, in 1966, began to fail soon after its donor--Burt's father, Charles Kilgore--died last year of cancer.

* DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.--Louis Brooks, who served six years behind bars for raping a woman, returned to the 75-year-old woman's house, raped her again and tried to stab her, shouting, "I'm going to kill you for putting me in jail!" police said. Brooks, 40, was jailed on charges of attempted murder, armed sexual battery and armed burglary after the attack Sunday night.

* HOUSTON--Enron Corp. has dropped plans to build 53 windmills in an area north of Los Angeles populated by California condors, an endangered species. Environmentalists had said the turning blades of the energy-producing windmills 200 feet above the ground would have been a death trap for the birds, only 49 of which are believed left in the wild.