Douglas County teens see smoking decline

Last week marked the 35th anniversary of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout where current smokers were asked to give up tobacco for at least one day. Aynsley Anderson from LMH participated in an online chat helping people with ideas for friends and loved ones to quit for longer than one day. I noticed one of the questions from the moderator was about teen smoking rates in Douglas County.

The Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP) has administered the CDC's Youth Tobacco Survey for KDHE in Douglas County on two occasions, 2006 and 2008. This survey is administered to all students in grades 6-12. Only a few schools in Douglas County were selected to participate in the survey administered in 2010 so we will not have county-wide data for this year. The statewide results have not been released yet.

However, for 2006 and 2008, the data is broken down between middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (9-12) students in Douglas County.

For high schoolers: The current smoking rate remained steady at 18% in both 2006 and 2008. The “ever smoked” cigarettes, though, decreased from 44% to 37% which is encouraging because fewer people have experimented. On the down side though, it means there were more people in that number who continued smoking once they tried it. The current smokeless tobacco use percentages declined from 14% to 11% from 2006 to 2008.

For middle schoolers: The current smoking rate declined from 5% to 3% from 2006 to 2008. The “ever smoked” cigarettes decreased from 20% to 11% in the same time period. The smokeless tobacco current use decreased from 3% to 2% from 2006 to 2008.

As Aynsley pointed out in the online chat, we hope the maintenance and the decreases in use have been helped by the information that is shared with younger people by both CHIP and the high school groups STAT (Students Teaching About Tobacco) or T4 (Teen Teams Talking Tobacco). Both have targeted younger students in the hopes that young people are not tempted to try tobacco. The STAT/T4 presentations target 2nd-4th graders to educate them about the effects of tobacco use and give them an opportunity to practice saying “no” when someone offers them tobacco. The CHIP presentations target middle school and junior high schoolers with education about the effects of tobacco use and showing them how smoking can affect their skin with the AprilAge program. This computer program is an age-progression program that shows them in side-by-side photographs how they will age up to 72 years (approximately) whether they choose to smoke – smoking vs. non-smoking.

Tagged: no smoking, cessation


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