Cigarette smoking down among Virginia high school students

no-smoking-headerThe Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Friday that youth smoking rates in Virginia have plummeted to an all-time low.

The percentage of high school students in Virginia who are regular smokers has declined by more than 61 percent – from 28.6 percent in 2001 to 11.1 percent during the 2013-14 school year, according to the results of the Virginia Youth Health Survey, jointly conducted by VFHY and VDH. Nationally, an estimated 15.7 percent of high school students are regular cigarette smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which was released Thursday.

Speaking about the decline, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel said, “The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth continues to raise awareness about the lifelong health threats associated with youth smoking and to advance healthier choices. With each biennial survey, high school smoking rates have declined, and the foundation’s accomplishment has grown in significance. I want to thank the foundation staff and board members for taking on this important endeavor.”

VFHY Executive Director Marty H. Kilgore said, “We are proud of the progress we’ve made at reducing smoking among Virginia high school students by more than 60 percent since 2001. We must, however, remain vigilant. As new children reach the age of experimentation with smoking, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth will continue to be there for them, keeping up with their ever-changing youth culture and helping them to grow into happy, healthy adults.”

“The Virginia Department of Health and its partners actively reach out to youth across the state with programs designed to empower them to choose breathing clean air over tobacco smoke. The results are youth who will grow up living healthier lives, doing the things they enjoy and making a difference in their families and communities without the risks of chronic disease and cancer brought about by tobacco use,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPA, FAAFP.

More than 15,100 middle school and high school students were surveyed at 245 public schools statewide in fall 2013 for this biennial health study.

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