* Winner: Utah's Rick Majerus, who guided the Utes to a 30-4 record and the title game of the NCAA Tournament, has decided to forgo an estimated $1 million a year contract at Arizona State to stay as basketball coach at the University of Utah. That not only speaks highly of Majerus, but of the students and administrators at the U. and the people of Utah. Majerus will not only continue to mold fine basketball players but fine citizens as well. Arizona State's loss is truly Utah's gain.

Loser: News this week that 43 percent of the nation's high school students either smoke cigarettes or cigars or chew tobacco - and that the number of teenage smokers is rising steadily - is not only disturbing, it is frightening. That's because studies show more than 80 percent of smokers become addicted before they turn 18. The report by the Centers for Disease Control shows that the figure was 34.8 percent in 1995 and 36.4 percent in 1996 and then jumped to the 43 percent figure in 1997. National, state and local government agencies need to work together to sharply reverse this deadly trend. Congress could start by passing the tobacco settlement.* Winner: While the smoking report was bad news, the fact that communicable diseases significantly decreased locally in 1997 is very good news. The communicable disease index measures eight diseases to determine the general health and well-being of the community. The biggest improvements were in controlling the spread of the hygiene-related diseases hepatitis A, salmonella and shigella. Hepatitis A cases decreased 67 percent in 1997. Salmonella cases fell 40 percent and shigella, a group of bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness, decreased 79 percent. Health officials correctly caution that the trend could be reversed if proper hygiene, such as regular hand-washing, is ignored.

* Winner: Congratulations to all who were recognized by the Deseret News as Sterling Scholars, as well as to all who participated in the program. A good education is a passport to progress, and all students should do the most they can to take advantage of their educational opportunities. Programs that recognize academic excellence, such as the Sterling Scholars program, are to be commended.