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Friday, August 10, 2012

Smoking, Tobacco Use and U.S. Youths

Hans Rudi Erdt: Problem Cigarettes, 1912 . Adv...
Hans Rudi Erdt: Problem Cigarettes, 1912 . Advertising poster. Color Lithograph, 26,6 x 36,9 in. / 67,6 x 93,7 cm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes people wonder why we discuss cigarette smoking or tobacco use on a blog about alcoholism/drug treatment and rehab. It is a valid question. The easy answer is that tobacco and nicotine are addictive and often studies that help us understand one addiction can clarify other addictive behaviors.

Just this week the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that indicates that while there has been a slow decline in tobacco use among middle and high school students over the past decade, this decline is not as great as the decline witnessed from 1997 to 2003.   Here is what the report showed as of 2011, as reported in the Los Angeles Times:
  • 7.1% of middle school students and 23.2% of high school students used tobacco, with the rates at 4.3% and 15.8% for cigarettes.
  • More than 8% of middle school boys and nearly 6% of middle school girls used some form of tobacco.
  • Among black high school students, cigar use went from 7.1% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2011. (That includes cigarette-like cigars that can be packaged and smoked like cigarettes, but are taxed at a lower rate.) 
  • Smokeless tobacco use among high school males (12.9%) was eight times higher than among high school females (1.6%).
  • Cigarette use declined from 19.2% in 2009 to 15.8% among Hispanic high school students.
18,866 students took part in this self-reported study in 178 schools.  If you are the parent of middle or high school children, you might take the time to ask yourself how do all of these adolescents get their hands on the tobacco products. First and foremost, adolescents will get their first cigarette from a friend, or "borrow" one from their parent's pack, and from there they are off and running. They might convince older siblings or older friends to buy them a pack. Most very young children will implore their parents to stop smoking. Most parents will try to stop, but if they don't, then one day the parent turns around and discovers that they are "enjoying" a smoke with their teenager! It happens...
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