Youth Smoking Rates Now Stalled

FRIDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Although teen smoking rates dropped in the past decade, they have stalled in recent years, which means increased tobacco prevention efforts are needed, a new U.S. government study shows.

Between 2000 and 2009, cigarette smoking rates declined from 28% to 17.2% among high school students, and from 11% to 5.2% among middle school students, said researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, they noted that the declines between 2006 and 2009 were not statistically significant -- from 19.8% to 17.2% among high school students and from 6.3% to 5.2% among middle school students.

The analysis of data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey also found that in 2009, 8.2% of middle school students and 23.9% of high school students reported any tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco, pipes, cigars, bidis (small brown cigarettes wrapped in a leaf), and kreteks (clove cigarettes).

In 2000, 15.1% of middle school students and 34.5% of high school students reported some type of tobacco use, according to the report. It appears in this week's issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which is published by the CDC.

The researchers said tobacco use remains the single leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States and that more than 80% of adult smokers begin smoking before age 18.

To further reduce smoking and other types of tobacco use among young people, the study authors said restrictions on advertising, promotion and availability of tobacco products to young people need to be combined with measures such as public smoking bans and increases in the price of tobacco products.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Aug. 27, 2010