Buffalo (WBEN) -- A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) is describing a downward trend in tobacco usage among middle- and high-school students.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein on Tuesday called attention to the report.
To assess current tobacco use among youths, CDC analyzed data from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey (“NYTS”). NYTS is a school-based, self-administered, pencil-and-paper questionnaire given to middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) students. It's used to collect information on key tobacco control outcome indicators used to monitor the impact of comprehensive tobacco control policies and programs.
Respondents to the study were asked about their use of cigarettes, cigars (including cigarillos and “little cigars”), smokeless tobacco, pipes, bidis (small brown cigarettes wrapped in a leaf), and kreteks (clove cigarettes) within the last 30 days.
“It is encouraging to see that overall rates of tobacco use are decreasing among middle and high school students,” Burstein said in a news release. “This shows that tobacco control policies and programs are having an effect on teen smoking rates, but more needs to be done, particularly in restricting tobacco sales to youth.”
Tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, with nearly 443,000 deaths occurring annually because of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, the health commissioner said.
Moreover, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers begin smoking by age 18.
During the years 2000 to 2011, prevalence of tobacco declined for both middle school and high school students. Among middle school students, current tobacco use declined from 15 percent to 7 percent; current combustible tobacco use declined from 14 percent to 6 percent; and current cigarette use declined from 11 percent to 4 percent.
Among high school students, current tobacco use declined from 34 percent to 23 percent; current combustible tobacco use declined from 33 percent to 21 percent; and current cigarette use declined from 28 percent to 16 percent.
Buffalo Public Schools, participants in the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Report (“YRBS”), report responses similar to national trends.
Over 10 percent of Buffalo middle school students report having tried cigarettes, but fewer than 1 percent report being habitual smokers (smoked on 20 or more days during the 30 days prior to taking the survey). However, among those middle school students who do smoke, nearly 10 percent are able to purchase their own cigarettes.
Among Buffalo high school students, fewer than 5 percent report habitual smoking, which is 32 percent below the state level and 54 percent below the national level. Among high school students who do smoke cigarettes, one-quarter report being able to purchase their own cigarettes, which is 56 percent higher than the national average.