Tobacco Less Appealing to Teens
Cigarettes and tobacco were once the height of cool, but now teenagers are more likely to describe the practice as “scummy” than to light up themselves. According to the news website TakePart, the National Youth Tobacco Survey of middle and high school students found that rates of teen tobacco use fell 16 percent from 1997 to 2009.
While once 36 percent of teens were known to be smokers, efforts like cigarette taxes and public health campaigns have helped decrease the rate to just 20 percent. According to Kenneth Warner of the University of Michigan, there were several factors that led to this improvement.
“Teen smoking rates have fallen substantially over the past several years, thanks primarily to increased cigarette taxes (and hence prices), the continuing efforts of the truth campaign and likely the smoke-free workplace laws, which have made smoking illegal in restaurants and bars,” Warner told TakePart.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted that smoking is no longer glamorized in the public eye. In youth-targeted movies between the years 2005 and 2010, onscreen tobacco used declined by 71 percent.
But with ongoing budget cuts in many states, several experts worry that diminished funding for tobacco prevention programs will lead to another wave of teen smokers. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, states cut tobacco prevention funding to its lowest level in over a decade last this year.
“There is every reason to expect that the reduction in funding will diminish the effectiveness of efforts to reduce teen smoking,” Warner said.