While teen smoking rates have leveled off nationwide after years of decline, they continue to drop in WA state, which has one of the nation’s most aggressive and successful teen anti-smoking campaigns.
Around the state a 2004 survey showed 19.7 percent of 12th-graders — down from 22.7 percent in 2002 — and 13 percent of 10th-graders — down 15 percent in 2002 — reported having smoked, said Tim Church, spokesman for the state Health Department.
That compares to an overall 23 percent rate from the 2004 national survey.
What’s our secret?
Washington spends roughly 80 percent of a $100 million settlement from a 2000 tobacco-industry lawsuit on preventing tobacco use, putting it in the top tier of states nationwide, Valdez and Church said. While tobacco prevention covers all ages, youth are a particular focus because 80 percent of adult smokers begin under the age of 18, Valdez said.
Of course it was Gov. Christine Gregoire who led the fight against the tobacco industry, who brought the settlement money to WA state, and who has championed our state’s teen anti-smoking efforts. That’s a great example of effective government that saves lives.