The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released national survey results that show Rhode Island now has the second lowest youth smoking rate in the country. The results come from a national comparison of data from the states' 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in which Rhode Island's youth smoking rate dropped from 11% in 2011 to 8% currently. Rhode Island is second only to the state of Utah where smoking is not permitted among the majority of the population's religious faith.
"A lower youth smoking rate means kids understand how tobacco companies profit from sickness and death," said Michael Fine, M.D., Director of HEALTH. "Fewer young people will die prematurely because they are making healthier choices, but our work is far from over. Health care providers need to remind their patients not to smoke and public health needs to continue the practices that we know work; raising the tax rate on cigarettes, educating communities on limiting youth access to tobacco products, and increasing the number of smoke-free public places - until we get to zero."
The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey is administered to middle and high school students on odd years to monitor a wide range of priority health risk behaviors among a representative sample of young people.
Findings also show that national cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped to the lowest levels since the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey began in 1991. By achieving a teen smoking rate of 15.7 percent, the United States has met its national Healthy People 2020 objective of reducing adolescent cigarette use to 16 percent or less. Healthy People 2020 is a compilation of disease prevention and health promotion objectives for the nation to achieve during the second decade of the 21st century.
"Rhode Island is leading the way in many areas of tobacco control," said Erin Boles Welsh, Program Manager for the Rhode Island Tobacco Control Program. "These results are very validating that our efforts are paying off, however eliminating youth smoking altogether will continue to be a priority for us."
The Tobacco Control Program plans to promote a new text messaging cessation tool for youth in the fall to help further reduce the smoking rate in the state. For more information, please contact Erica Collins 401-222-7635.