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To Your Health: Chicago youth smoking rates hit all-time low

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Updated: July 5, 2014 6:16AM



According to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 10.7 percent of Chicago high school students reported smoking in 2013, down from 13.6 percent in 2011.

This is a decrease in youth smoking of more than 20 percent. This also represents a nearly 60 percent decrease in youth smoking rates in a 12-year time frame, from 24.6 percent in 2001. This survey data also shows Chicago high school students’ use of cigars, cigarillos, snuff and other tobacco products is down.

Every day, more than 3,200 kids in the United States will smoke their first cigarette; many of them will start smoking before their 18th birthday.

“This decline in youth smoking is the payoff for a decade of commitment and investment to educating our kids about the dangers of smoking,” said Heather Eagleton, Illinois government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Research shows a majority of smokers became addicted before the age of 19. Having fewer Chicago kids smoking now means fewer lives lost to tobacco-related cancer in the future.”

Smoking among adults also has seen declines. According to recent data available, only 18 percent of adults reported being current tobacco smokers, the lowest number reported in the study’s 12 years.

Specifically, significant decreases in smoking have been seen among women, college graduates, and 45- to 64-year-old residents.

Healthy Chicago, the first comprehensive public health agenda for the city, prioritizes tobacco cessation, setting a goal of less than 12 percent of adults smoking by the year 2020.

In 2013, the Illinois Tobacco Quit Line received more than 24,000 calls from Chicagoans, a significant increase over 2012.

About 73 percent of Chicago callers to the quit line in 2013 were identified as black or Latino.

“Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in our state and nationwide, so the results of this survey by the CDC are incredibly encouraging,” Eagleton said. “It is proof that the city of Chicago’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, combined with effective tobacco taxes and other tobacco legislation, is saving lives and money.”



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