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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Releases New Teen Smoking Statistics

Press Release Date:  Monday, December 18, 2006  
Contact Information:  Vikki Franklin or Beth Crace, (502) 564-6786  

Teen Smoking Rates Continue to Decline

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) today released results from the 2006 Kentucky Youth Tobacco Survey (KYTS) that show a continued decline in youth smoking rates statewide and an encouraging change in young people’s attitudes about smoking and the use of tobacco products.

Efforts to promote healthy lifestyle choices, including avoiding the harmful effects of tobacco, are connecting with more Kentucky teenagers, according to the survey conducted by the Department for Public Health (DPH) within CHFS.

“These results mean good news for the future health of Kentuckians,” said Governor Ernie Fletcher. “Avoiding tobacco use is one the smartest choices one can make in terms of preventive health care and a key goal of my new Get Healthy Kentucky initiative. The study shows we have been moving in the right direction to curb tobacco use, and with this new program we hope to see an even bigger decline, particularly among young people.”

The study, which provides a broad overview of the smoking rates and tobacco habits of Kentucky’s youth, covers a range of topics indicating public health programs to reduce youth smoking and tobacco use have been remarkably effective.

The 2005 hike in Kentucky’s excise tax, proposed by Governor Fletcher and approved by the General Assembly, has also had an impact, by increasing the cost of tobacco products to teens with limited disposable income. In addition, the adoption of smoke-free school policies has helped curb the number of students exposed to tobacco smoke. The survey results indicate that middle school students’ exposure to secondhand smoke dropped significantly between 2002 and 2006.

Smoking Prevalence among Middle and High School Students, 2000-2006  

Year                  2000       2002     2004       2006   
Middle School    21.5%    15.1%    N/A         12.1%   
High School       37.4%    34.2%    27.9%    24.5% 
“The information gleaned from the survey gives us a good indicator of how well our programs are working and where we need to focus our efforts to prevent tobacco use among young people and stop them from becoming regular tobacco users,” said CHFS Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell.

The results show:

· A three-percentage point drop in the percentage of high school students who admit current tobacco use. Twenty-five percent of Kentucky high school students acknowledge they smoked or used a cigarrette on one or more of the past 30 days. In 2004, the percentage was 28 percent.

· Current cigarette use among middle school students fell from 15 percent in 2002 to 12 percent in 2006. (Data was not available for 2004.)

· Lifetime cigarette use declined significantly among high school students from 63 percent in 2004 to 57 percent in 2006. Lifetime cigarette use is defined as having ever tried or used a cigarette. A similar decrease was found among middle school students. That number fell significantly from 44 percent in 2002 to 36 percent in 2006.

· A significant decrease also was found in the percentage of middle school students who had ever tried any type of tobacco product. That number fell from 52 percent in 2002 to 44 percent in 2006.

 “We are absolutely delighted with this new information,” said Irene Centers, program manager for DPH's Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program. “Keeping our young people from initiating smoking is the best way to help ensure a healthier future for Kentucky. We have been working diligently to get the message out to youth about the health risks of tobacco use.”

According to Centers, youth activities across Kentucky include the youth coalition Helping Overcome Tobacco (HOT), Tobacco Free Sports initiatives in schools and community groups, and advocacy and education groups such as Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU).

Each year, schools across the state participate in Kick Butts Day activities to raise awareness about the health and mortality issues related to tobacco and to support strong tobacco prevention policies. Many schools also plan activities around the Great American Smoke Out to point out the need for smoking restrictions in public places.

These results were generated from the 2006 KYTS conducted earlier this year in 65 high schools and 74 middle schools throughout Kentucky. More than 3,000 high school students and 3,700 middle school students were surveyed. The full report can be viewed at Click on Kentucky Tobacco Data Reports.

The results of the KYTS help Kentucky’s public health community monitor the state’s progress in attaining the goals outlined in Healthy Kentuckians 2010. Those goals include objectives to reduce the prevalence of cigarette smoking among middle and high school students, reduce the proportion of high school students who have smoked a whole cigarette before age 13, and increase the proportion of high school students who have never smoked a cigarette.

The Healthy Kentuckians 2010 objectives reflect Kentucky’s commitment to the national prevention project “Healthy People 2010.”




Last Updated 12/18/2006