Not So Cool Anymore: Cigarettes Losing Popularity Among Mississippi’s Youth
By Kara Bachman
Since it’s one of the biggest controllable health threats, most parents hope their children will never smoke even a single cigarette or use a smokeless product such as chewing tobacco. Although as a society we’ve made great strides in educating about the health risks associated with tobacco use, some middle and high school students still get involved with this habit that’s increasingly frowned upon among youth as “uncool.”
There’s a recent spot of bright news, however. According to the 2018 University Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University, rates of smoking — and use of smokeless tobacco — went down between 2016 and 2017 for Mississippi middle and high school students.
The stats show that among high school kids, cigarette use fell in 2017 to 7.2 percent of students smoking, down from 9.4 percent in 2016. Smokeless tobacco use went from 7.1 percent of students using to 6.6 percent using.
Among middle schoolers, 1.5 percent of students smoked in 2017 compared to 3.8 percent in 2016. Smokeless tobacco use went from 4 percent of students using to 3 percent using.
Although the gains over this one-year period studied didn’t show overwhelming change, they do show a positive trend away from tobacco use.
Director of the Office of Tobacco Control at the Mississippi State Department of Health, Amy Winter, commented on these study results via written press release.
“The decrease in middle school students that currently smoke is significant,” Winter said. “Other reductions from 2016 may not be as large, but their continuing downward trend is promising for the future health of our children.”
The state of Mississippi has several programs designed to reduce the frequency of smoking across the state. The Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalitions, Mississippi State Department of Health, and Smokefree Mississippi are committed to educating families across the state about the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
For more information on tobacco prevention programs, call the Mississippi State Department of Health Office of Tobacco Control at (601)991-6050 or visit Healthyms.com/tobacco.