Teen Tobacco Use On The Decline
August 10, 2012

Slight Decline In Teen Tobacco Use, More Needs To Be Done: CDC

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that from 2009 to 2011, the percentage of high school students using tobacco dropped slightly.

The government agency said the decline was greater among middle school students, dropping to 7.1 percent from 8.2 percent.

“An overall decline in tobacco use is good news, but although 4 out of 5 teens don't smoke, far too many kids start to smoke every day,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said in a statement.  “Most tobacco use begins and becomes established during adolescence. This report is further evidence that we need to do more to prevent our nation´s youth from establishing a deadly addiction to tobacco.”

The agency surveyed 18,866 students in middle school and high school, ranging in the ages between 11 and 18.

According to the report, youth tobacco use in the late 1990s saw double-digit declines as states started to ramp up its anti-smoking campaigns.  Between 1998 and 2003, youth tobacco use dropped 40 percent.

The agency suggests that as states are struggling due to the slower economy, funding for anti-tobacco campaigns has been reduced or eliminated. The CDC claims this could explain why "current declines are occurring much more slowly."

"Fully funding and implementing comprehensive tobacco-control programs might have further impact on preventing and reducing tobacco use among youths," the agency said.

Although no significant declines were see in tobacco products being used among middle school students, cigarette use declined from 19.2 percent in 2009 to 15.8 percent in 2011 among Hispanic high school students.

The 2012 Surgeon General's Report recommends that in order to keep young people from smoking, tobacco products need to be made even less affordable. Also, more anti-tobacco ads need to be run, and new restrictions on the sale, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco products to youth need to be made.

Cigarette use and exposure to secondhand smoke kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, according to the CDC.

"The health consequences of tobacco use include heart disease, multiple types of cancer, lung disease, adverse reproductive effects, and the worsening of chronic health conditions," the agency said.

Nearly 4,000 kids under the age of 18 try their first cigarette every day, helping to add to the estimated cost of $193 billion annually on direct health care expenses.