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For Release:
May 27, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael
(609) 984-7160

U.S. Surgeon General Carmona Honors New Jersey REBEL at National Press Club Conference



TRENTON, N.J. May 27 – Surgeon General Richard Carmona, MD honored REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies), the youth component of New Jersey’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control  Program (CTCP), during his presentation of the 28th Surgeon General’s Report titled, The Health Consequences of Smoking, 2004.  Dr. Carmona presented the report findings at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

                The newly released Health Consequences of Smoking, 2004, concludes that smoking causes disease in nearly every organ of the body and at every stage of life. Since most lifelong smokers begin when they are young, Dr. Carmona emphasized the importance of engaging young people in the struggle to prevent their peers from ever starting to smoke.  During his remarks, he cited New Jersey’s youth movement, REBEL, as a prime example of a program empowering youth to make informed life decisions about health behaviors.

                “The Surgeon General has just released the most comprehensive report ever issued on the health risks of tobacco use,” said New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. “If current trends continue, 168,000 New Jersey teens now alive will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases. By spreading the message to their peers, REBEL and other youth activists are helping future generations avoid the devastation caused by tobacco use.”

                At the invitation of the Surgeon General’s office, Rachi Govil, a founding member of REBEL and national teen anti-tobacco advocate, attended the press conference as the youth representative for the New Jersey organization.

                "The New Jersey REBEL program is one of the most dynamic youth-led anti-tobacco movements in our country.  REBEL students use their energy and imagination to create new and effective ways to educate their peers that smoking is harmful and not "cool," Dr. Carmona noted. 

                Ms. Govil, a 20-year-old Rutgers University student, has educated New Jersey youth about the dangers of tobacco through REBEL since its founding in November 2000.  Working closely with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS), she has advocated for anti-tobacco education, prevention, and cessation programs for students across the state. She is also active in educating teens across the country as a member of the speakers’ bureau for the American Legacy Foundation.

                “REBEL focuses on educating New Jersey’s youth and their families about the deadly consequences of smoking,” said Ms. Govil. “This latest report validates our hard work – it shows that comprehensive tobacco control programs like those in New Jersey are vital to helping smokers quit and keeping young people from starting.” 

                New Jersey’s REBEL has made significant strides in reducing the rate of smoking – especially among teens. Since REBEL started in November 2000, teen smoking in New Jersey has dropped by 42 percent among middle school students and by 11 percent among high school students. To help residents quit smoking, the State offers three customized Quit Services – NJ QuitnetTM, NJ Quitline, and NJ Quitcenters. Over one-tenth of New Jersey’s 1.16 million smokers have accessed the services since they were established in October 2000.  Working with other community-based organizations, REBEL encouraged the passage of 27 smoke-free ordinances in 2002 alone. 

                REBEL is just one of many initiatives sponsored by NJDHSS and funded with money from the increase in New Jersey’s cigarette excise tax. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTCP) has hailed New Jersey as one of “the nation’s new leaders in tobacco prevention.” New Jersey’s CTCP is designed to reduce the sickness, disability, and death among New Jersey residents associated with the use of tobacco and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. To learn more about REBEL, visit

                The 28th report of the Surgeon General expanded the list of diseases caused by smoking to include abdominal aortic aneurysm, cataract, periodontitis, acute myeloid leukemia, and cancers of the cervix, kidney, pancreas, and stomach.  The report also found that smoking has other damaging effects on health, including loss of bone mass, risk of fractures, erectile dysfunction, eye diseases, and peptic ulcers. To view a complete report, visit


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