Kids these days may be many things — but apparently very few of them are teen smokers, according to an annual survey. And a powerful combination of anti-smoking PSAs, high federal tobacco taxes, and a cut back in marketing tobacco to teens may be the reasons we can all rally behind.
Reuters reports that a University of Michigan survey of 45,000 eighth, 10th, and 12th graders revealed a record low this year with smoking falling just a tad over a percentage point. But don’t look so cynical over there:
“A one percentage point decline may not sound like a lot, but it represents about a 9 percent reduction in a single year in the number of teens currently smoking,” Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator in the study, said in a statement.
But that’s not all mothers and fathers have to be delighted about. The good news just keeps on coming:
Smoking rates fell for each of the individual age groups surveyed, most notably among eighth graders – from 6.1 percent in 2011 to 4.9 percent in 2012, the survey found.
Longer-term trends showed teen smoking rates dropping by about three-fourths among eighth graders, two-thirds among 10th graders and by half among 12th graders since a peak in the mid-1990s, researchers said.
Another point of note by some experts is that fewer kids have even tried smoking in the first place. Compare that with 1996, when almost half of all American eighth graders had tried cigarettes, and all of us deserve a pat on the back.
That 62 cent hike in federal cigarette tax, back in 2009, is being cited as a “contributing factor,” but also, the sheer appeal of smoking appears to be waning with kids as well. A whopping 80 percent of teenagers said — in 2012, mind you — that they would prefer to date a nonsmoker.
But Susan Liss, executive director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says that this is hardly the time to “let our guard down” to the tobacco industry. Seventeen percent of high school seniors still reportedly graduate with a smoking habit and alternative forms of “smokeless tobacco” (like Camel-branded “Orbs” and “Strips,”) are giving experts in the field some grief.
So don’t get too confident in your parenting just yet.