Tags: Teen | Smoking | Declines

Teen Smoking Declines

Thursday, 16 May 2002 12:00 AM

This could "contribute to potentially millions of deaths averted," Terry Pechacek, associate director for science with CDC's office of smoking and health, told United Press International.

CDC was concerned about the increasing rates seen in the first half of the 1990s because 6.4 million American youths would die prematurely from a tobacco related disease if the trend continued, Pechacek said.

"If we can cut rates in half, we could potentially reduce that 6.4 million by half," he said.

CDC is hopeful the downward trend will continue because it would put the United States on course to "reach its 2010 health objective of reducing teen smoking rates down to 16 percent," Pechacek said at a teleconference announcing the report.

Researchers from the centers analyzed data from a national survey of 11,000 to 16,000 high school students conducted every two years over the past decade. They found about 28 percent of U.S. high school students reported being smokers in 2001, defined as having smoked at least one day in the past 30 days, compared with 36 percent in 1997.

The number of frequent smokers, defined as those who had smoked 20 or more days out of the past 30, also declined, to 14 percent in 2001 from 17 percent in 1999.

Black teens are less likely to smoke than white and Hispanic teens, the report showed. The reasons for this are unclear but might include cultural differences in attitude toward tobacco, Pechacek said.

The report also found fewer and fewer teens were trying smoking. In 1999, 70 percent of high school students reported having tried cigarettes during their lives. In 2001, the figure had dropped to about 64 percent.

The reasons for the decline "include a 70 percent increase in the retail price of cigarettes between December 1997 and May 2001, increases in school-based efforts to prevent tobacco use, and increases in youth exposure to both state and national mass media smoking prevention campaigns," CDC officials wrote in the report.

Judith Brook, professor of preventive and community medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who has studied smoking in youth, told UPI she believed teen smoking rates "will continue to decline. The question is: 'How rapidly?'"

Brook noted one of the most important reasons for the decline in smoking rates is the increase in price. "I think it will be very helpful to keep raising prices," she said. Cathy Backinger, program director with the tobacco control research branch at the National Cancer Institute, which funds research to determine what types of anti-smoking strategies are effective, told UPI studies have shown "increasing the price of cigarettes by 10 percent decreases smoking by 5 percent."

The price of cigarettes can continue to be increased at least until 2010, Pechacek told UPI, because the United States has "a national health objective to increase the national excise tax to $2 by 2010," from the current 84 cents.

In addition, several states have increased their excise tax and other states are considering it, Pechacek said.

Another factor in the smoking decline is that "there's been an increase in adolescent's perception that smoking is problematic and that it has a number of risks in terms of health," Brook said. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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This could contribute to potentially millions of deaths averted, Terry Pechacek, associate director for science with CDC's office of smoking and health, told United Press International. CDC was concerned about the increasing rates seen in the first half of the 1990s...
Thursday, 16 May 2002 12:00 AM
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