LITTLE ROCK, AR - According to a report from Dr. Regina Benjamin, United States Surgeon General, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes. In Arkansas alone, an estimated 23.5 percent of high school students smoke.
In Arkansas, the report says the latest data show that approximately 16,754 fewer Arkansas high school students are users of cigarettes now than in 2000. Nationwide, declines in the use of tobacco by youth and young adults have slowed for cigarette smoking and stalled for smokeless tobacco use after years of steady progress.
“The evidence in the new Surgeon General’s report clearly demonstrates the need for intensified and sustained efforts to prevent our young people from using tobacco,” said Dr. Carolyn Dresler, medical director for the Arkansas Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program. “We know what works: comprehensive efforts that include mass media campaigns, 100 percent smoke-free laws in restaurants, bars and worksites, high cigarette prices, evidence-based school programs, and sustained community-wide efforts. We must redouble our efforts to protect the young people in Arkansas.”
Although the smoking rate among Arkansas high school students has declined from 35.8 percent in to 2000 to 23.5 percent in 2010, each year 3,700 Arkansas kids under 18 become new daily smokers, according to the Surgeon General's report. In addition, Arkansas continues to prevent youth access to cigarettes. The percentage of successful youth attempts to purchase tobacco from retail sources has dropped from 21.9 percent in 2001 to 5.4 percent in 2012.
“If we adopted the strategies outlined in the report, youth smoking rates would continue to decline,” said Dresler. “Most importantly, we would greatly reduce the staggering toll that tobacco takes on our families and communities.”
For more information on Arkansas tobacco control activities, visit stampoutsmoking.com
. For online copies of the full Surgeon Generals’s report, executive summary, and an easy-to-read guide on tobacco use and young people, visit surgeongeneral.gov