Fewer teenagers in Virginia taking up smoking

Fewer teenagers in Virginia schools have taken up smoking in recent years, a new survey shows, as cigarette use has dropped to record lows.

The Virginia secretary of health and human resources, Bill Hazel, announced that a new study had shown that in the past decade the number of Virginia high school students who are habitual smokers has declined by more than 55 percent. In 2001, about 28 percent of Virginia high schoolers smoked regularly. In 2011, the number had fallen to 13 percent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 18 percent of high school students nationwide are regular cigarette smokers.

The number of middle school students who smoked also declined, with three percent smoking tobacco in 2011 compared to about 11 percent in 2001. The biennial survey polled about 2,600 Virginia public high school and middle school students and asked the adolescents about cigarette use, tobacco company advertising and accessbility to tobacco products.

According to another study from University of Michigan research scientists, the decline in tobacco use among American youths might be related to a 2009 federal cigarette tax hike, which increased the price per pack by 62 cents.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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