Teen Smoking Rates Drop

More Kentucky teenagers are saying “no” to smoking.

A report released by the state said cigarette smoking among high school students dropped below 25-percent this year. That’s down from 37-percent, six years ago.

Health experts say the statistics are encouraging but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

A boost in cigarette taxes may have actually helped increase the health of the state. New reports show teen smoking is on the decline in Kentucky.

“There’s no question. Kids have very limited income and if something costs more, kids are less likely to use it,” said Joyce Adkins, Tobacco Control Specialist.

Adkins believes a rise in the cigarette tax and state efforts to promote healthier lifestyles, have helped turn teens away from tobacco. A change in attitude may have also played a part.

“Here ... It’s grown ... Just part of the culture and the economy so it’s normalized that kids start earlier,” Adkins said.

Despite the good news, the state is still lagging behind other states when it comes to teen smoking. According to a 2004 survey, Kentucky still had the highest rate of teen smoking in the nation.

Statistics show kids in Kentucky tend to pick up the habit at age 12 or 13, compared to other states where they are traditionally 15 or 16.

Health experts say we still have a long way to go but Governor Ernie Fletcher said he is encouraged by the news and is glad the state appears to be moving in the right direction.