A new study shows a group of local teenagers are winning the fight against some very grown-up political obstacles: tobacco use and reducing the state budget.
A recently released survey by the State Department of Health and Human Services says the percentage of North Carolina teenagers who smoke; hit an all-time low this year, up nearly 50 percent over the last decade.
A new North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey presented this week showed 4.3 percent of middle school students and 15.5 percent of students smoke cigarettes. This figure has decreased continuously in North Carolina since 2003.
The agency correlated with lower rates “Tobacco. Reality. Unfiltered” nonsmoking campaign. Since the campaign was launched in 2003, high school smoking declined by 55 percent from 9.3 percent to 4.2 percent and high school smoking declined by 43 percent from 27.3 percent to 15.5 percent.
“I think we all really delighted with these results and the fact that we are making a difference,” said Tiffany Jones, a junior at North Buncombe High School, who is working with local TRU and youth programs authorized solutions.
“But we also realize that in fact the fight is definitely not over, and there are a lot of work to be done.”
Good Teen Spirit
Jones joined a group of students from other schools in the city and county last week to break up a “quit kits” for veterans in recognition of National Armed Forces Day. The set includes gum to “pull off the binding,” as negative reinforcement for traction, candy fight oral fixation calls, and a list of reasons to quit smoking.
“I just want to say that I’m proud of you guys for being here and doing this,” one of a set of recipients said last week. “It gives me much hope.” Teens are quick to point out that each one has different causes take the anti-tobacco case, but they agree that peer education is the most effective way to keep teenagers from picking up the habit.
“It’s much more effective to have someone your age to tell you about such things,” said Emma Harper, a sophomore high school Asheville. “No one goes away or not to start smoking, because an adult comes along and shakes their finger and says:” Do not do it, it’s bad. “
The group, which represents rural and urban areas throughout Buncombe County, said that each of them knows who their age who smoke cigarettes. They said that the most common incentive to smoke is based on “the understanding that it relaxes and stress relief,” and that this is a common habit among their peers.
They said some teenagers are aware, come from families where parents buy cigarettes for them, but a lot of smoke away from home and parents who have no clue, they never picked up the smoke. Harper said that many young people have the misconception that more people their age smoke than it actually is, or “everybody does it” mentality that everything is not so.
“We talked to children in other schools - especially in the Near Asheville - who actually think that 80 percent of teens smoke,” said Tyler Long, another Asheville High student. “We know that this is obviously not true, but it’s amazing how many people think.”
Potential “stopped in progress” Despite the apparent success of the program in the TRU, adolescents and their adult advocates are concerned that funding cuts coming into effect in July will stop the progress they have made. The General Assembly eliminated funding from July 1 to TRU and other tobacco prevention programs in North Carolina.
The program was initially funded by the TRU Beauty and Health Trust Fund at the expense of Master Settlement Agreement with major tobacco companies, but funding for the program was transferred to the budget of last year and is not set to repeat it.
Governor Bev Perdue proposed a $ 10 million in its budget released last week to start rebuilding support for the initiatives. “About 100,000 students enter secondary school each year in North Carolina, and these children can not help the program, they have never experienced,” said Pam Seamans, executive director of the North Carolina Alliance for Health.
“We have seen in other states that have eliminated funding for those programs that progress stalls and rate of climb,” Seamans said. “We are so proud of the work of these young people do, so we do not want to see these gains evaporate.”