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Decline in Youth Cigarette Smoking in the U.S. Slows

Cheaper cigarettes, less anti-smoking campaign money and more industry ads suspected

FRIDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette smoking among teenagers fell from the late 1990s until 2003 in the United States, but this decline slowed between 2003 and 2005, according to a report in the July 7 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Survey to evaluate cigarette smoking patterns in high school students from 1991 to 2005. The overall response rates for the national, anonymous, questionnaire-based biennial survey ranged from 60 percent to 70 percent.

Some 16.8 percent of students described themselves as frequent smokers in 1999, up from 12.7 percent in 1991, but that number dropped to 9.4 percent in 2005. However, a similar decline was not seen between 2003 and 2005.

Cheaper cigarettes, less money for anti-smoking campaigns and stepped-up tobacco industry advertising may be to blame, the researchers suggest.

"The findings in this report that the prevalence of lifetime, current, and current frequent cigarette use among high school students was unchanged from 2003 to 2005 is consistent with trends observed in other national school-based surveys, suggesting that the national decline in youth smoking observed during 1997-2003 might have stalled," the authors write.

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