Teen smoking has “declined significantly” this year and smoking rates among middle and high school kids are now at record low levels, according to a new survey released today by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
The “Monitoring the Future” survey conducted by the University of Michigan focused on smoking among students in grades 8, 10 and 12. The largest drop in smoking – nearly two percent – was found in tenth-graders, but overall all three grades registered a 1.1 percent decline in smoking from 2010 levels, when an average of 12.8 percent of students said they smoked. The survey involved 47,000 students nationwide in 400 secondary schools.
“This is very good news for the health and longevity of these young people,” Lloyd
Johnston, the principal investigator of the study, said in a news release. “Even a reduction of only one percentage point can translate into thousands of premature deaths being prevented.”
The advocacy group, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, proclaimed the survey as good news indeed for health officials and activists who were concerned by reports last year that the decline in teen smoking that began in the mid-1990s had actually stalled. The group, which pushes polices aimed at helping young people avoid smoking altogether, called the results of the latest survey “a remarkable public health success story and powerful evidence that we know how to win the fight against tobacco by implementing scientifically proven strategies.”
The group said in a press release that those strategies include higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention and media campaigns, strong smoke-free laws, and the effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing. They noted that many programs designed to stop teen smoking had been cut in recent years, and are facing cuts again this year as state and federal officials try to resolve tight budget issues.
“It would be a serious mistake for elected leaders to take continued gains for granted,” the release said. “We cannot be satisfied when nearly one in five high school seniors still graduate as smokers, putting them at risk for debilitating diseases and premature death. We cannot let our guard down when the tobacco industry still spends more than $10 billion a year to market its deadly and addictive products.”