Percentage of Teen Smokers Holds Steady at 20%

Lack of progress in recent years worries health officials
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2008 10:04 PM CDT
The percentage of teens who smoke is holding steady at 20%.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The number of teens who smoke has stopped declining, and anti-smoking activists worry that complacency is setting in, the Washington Post reports. The latest survey shows that 20% of kids between the ages of 13 and 17 light up, a figure that has generally held steady since 2003. It remains a marked improvement from the figure of 36.4% n 1997, but the leveling off has health officials worried.

"The lack of greater progress in recent years is a clear warning to elected officials to resist complacency and redouble efforts to reduce tobacco use,” one lobbyist said. Activists say state money for anti-smoking campaigns has dried up since a 1998 settlement against Big Tobacco. They also say that tobacco companies continue a subtle campaign to lure teens through promotions and by working to keep characters puffing away in TV and movies.