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New Study of Teen Smoking [10/29-2]

The nation's largest student drug survey today showed that use of the most deadly drug -- nicotine -- continues to rise, in part because of more aggressive advertising and promotion, and in part because many kids no loner believe that smoking is dangerous.

Here are some of the findings of the tenth annual PRIDE Survey of 141,077 students in junior and senior high school:

At the high school level, increases were reported in monthly cigarette and use.

Monthly cigarette smoking rose to 35 percent among senior high students.

Cigarettes and liquor showed the strongest increases of any drug categories and were the only two drugs in which increases of two percentage points or more were registered.

Annual use of cigarettes rose 2.4 percent among twelfth grades, from 50 percent to 52.4 percent.

The authors say aggressive marketing strategies by cigarette makers, coupled with social trends such as the popularity of cigar bars, may have contributed to greater acceptance of smoking among teenagers.

Despite widespread public attention to adolescent cigarette smoking, more young people lit up last year than at any time in the ten years of the survey.

They said cigarettes are easy to find, and a surprising number said that cigarettes present no serious health threat.

One half of the senior high (50 percent) said they smoked cigarettes in the past year, up 2 percent from the year before, and 20 percent said they smoked daily.

Over two-thirds of students (68 percent) said cigarettes were fairly easy or very easy to get. Nearly a quarter of students (24 percent) thought cigarettes posed only a limited threat to health, with 4 percent saying there is no health risk in smoking.

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