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Youth smoking hits historic lows

anti smoking educationYouth smoking rates have reached historic lows in the state, according to the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund. The smoking rate has dropped to 4.3 percent of middle-school students and 16. 7 percent of high-school kids. Those are all-time lows, according to the organization’s annual survey.

“Our work with North Carolina teens continues to show tremendous results in this state’s consistently declining youth-smoking rates,” says N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue. “The lower smoking rates translate into over 53,000 fewer teen cigarette smokers since 2003. Each year, we are another step closer to creating the state’s first tobacco-free generation.”

The N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund launched its youth tobacco-prevention program in 2003. Since then, middle-school smoking fell 53.7 percent and high-school smoking dropped 38.8 percent.

An area of concern, however, is the use of tobacco products other than cigarettes. The rate of smokeless tobacco use, while lower than smoking rates, has not declined significantly in recent years. The rate dropped by one percentage point to 8.5 percent in 2009 from 2003 among high-school students, with a similar decrease among middle-school students (to 3 percent from 4.5 percent) during that time. Cigar-use rates have remained virtually unchanged since 1999.

The survey questioned 3,800 middle-school students and 3,301 high-school students from 200 schools and 78 school districts.

The N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund finances programs that promote health. It was created by the N.C. General Assembly in 2000.

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