U.S. teenagers smoke
less, but texting while driving a concern: CDC
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[June 13, 2014]
By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Fewer
U.S. teenagers are smoking cigarettes, fighting or
having sex, but texting while driving is prevalent among
high school students, according to a survey released by
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on
In 2013, 15.7 percent of teenagers reported smoking cigarettes, the
lowest rate recorded since the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey
began in 1991, the CDC said.
But more than 40 percent of students who had driven a car in the
previous 30 days said they sent text messages or emails while
driving, putting themselves and others on roadways at risk, health
Last year's survey was the first to collect such data on texting and
emailing while driving.
Health officials said they were encouraged by the drop in teen
smoking but worried that the growing popularity of electronic
cigarettes could offset gains made by anti-smoking campaigns.
"We're particularly concerned about e-cigarettes re-glamorizing
smoking traditional cigarettes and maybe making it more complicated
to enforce smoke-free laws that protect all non-smokers," said CDC
Director Tom Frieden.
In the 1991 survey, 27.5 percent of high school students said they
smoked cigarettes. The rate increased to 36.4 percent in 1997 before
beginning a steady decline, the CDC said. In 2011, 18.1 percent of
teenagers reported smoking.
The rate of students using smokeless tobacco increased from 7.7
percent in 2011 to 8.8 percent in 2013, the CDC said.
In response to the survey, anti-smoking advocates urged federal
regulators to ban the marketing of all tobacco products to children.
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"These survey results are a powerful reminder that the fight against
tobacco is an entirely winnable battle, but the job is still far
from done," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for
The CDC survey showed the percentage of students who reported ever
having sexual intercourse dropped slightly from 47.4 percent in 2011
to 46.8 percent in 2013.
Fighting also declined, the survey showed. In 2013, 24.7 percent of
students reported having been in a physical fight at least once
during the prior 12 months, down from 32.8 percent in 2011.
The CDC report did not give a breakdown by age but surveyed teens in
grades nine through 12.
(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Eric Beech
and Diane Craft)
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