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Tobacco Use Significantly Declines in Panamanian Youth

Cigarette smoking, other tobacco use, likely initiation of smoking down in youths aged 13 to 15 in Panama

MONDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Among Panamanian teens aged 13 to 15, cigarette smoking, other tobacco use and the likely initiation of smoking in the next year by never smokers significantly declined between 2002 and 2008, according to a report published Jan. 9 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

R. Roa, M.D., of the Panama Ministry of Health and colleagues surveyed 1,296 Panamanian teens in 2002 and 2,716 in 2008, all aged 13 to 15.

Between the two time periods, the researchers found that the prevalence of current cigarette smoking decreased by 60 percent among boys, 75 percent among girls, and 67 percent overall (from 13.2 percent to 4.3 percent). They also found that current use of other tobacco products decreased by 41 percent (from 9.8 percent to 5.8 percent), and that likely initiation of smoking by never smokers decreased from 13.8 percent to 10 percent.

"The ideal goal in Panama, as for all countries that ratify the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is zero tobacco use among adolescents," the authors of an accompanying editorial note conclude. "To attain this goal, Panama's Ministry of Health should continue to make youth tobacco use prevention a programmatic priority and broaden the program to include excise tax increases, a complete ban on smoking in all indoor work places, and a complete ban on pro-tobacco advertising."

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