TEEN SMOKING: Rates Decline, Middle School Use Alarming
One out of eight middle school students uses some type of tobacco product according to a survey released yesterday by the CDC, USA Today reports. Sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation, the "most comprehensive survey on teen usage of tobacco products" found an alarming increase in popularity of flavored cigarettes like bidis -- tiny, unfiltered cigarettes from India -- and clove cigarettes (Koch, 1/28). Questioning 15,000 students at 130 schools, the survey found nearly 13% of sixth through eighth graders had used some type of tobacco product compared to nearly 35% of all teens (Kaufman, Washington Post, 1/28). The survey marked a decline in number of teens smoking cigarettes, dropping to 28% from 36% in 1997 (Noble, New York Times, 1/28).
Room for Improvement
The survey also found that an equal number, 9%, of African American and white middle school students smoked cigarettes. This is a particularly alarming trend as African American teens have traditionally smoked less than white teens. The CDC's survey found that nearly 33% of white teens smoke cigarettes compared to nearly 16% of blacks (Washington Post, 1/28). Ron Todd, director of tobacco control for the American Cancer Society, said that the survey "still says more than one-in-four children in high school are smoking cigarettes, and that's not good enough. While the news is encouraging, we want it to be better" (Bynum, AP/Los Angeles Times, 1/28). Director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health Michael Eriksen said, "As a parent, I find it shocking that in this group of young, middle school children, so many are smoking cigarettes and using tobacco." The survey will be repeated this spring and every two years afterward (Washington Post, 1/28). The survey results are available at www.cdc.gov/tobacco.