Arizona 17th In Anti-Smoking Efforts For Kids

Published: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 8:33am
Updated: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 2:04pm

A new report shows Arizona is ranked 17th in the nation in its efforts to prevent teens from smoking and help smokers quit the habit.

The report released Thursday by a coalition of health groups looked at efforts across the nation. It held up Florida as a state that has seen its efforts pay off. Just 7½ percent of Florida high school students smoke compared to 14 percent in Arizona.

The study shows Arizona collecting $424 million this year from tobacco taxes and the 1998 settlement with tobacco companies but spending less than 5 percent of that on tobacco prevention programs. The $19 million Arizona spent this year is just a third of that recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report was issued by a coalition of health groups including the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. It found that 14 percent of Arizona high school students smoke. The national average is just shy of 16 percent.

Wayne Tormala is with the Arizona Department of Health Services. He says that while Arizona’s number sounds high, the state has seen a decline in the number of teen smokers.

"Even though we’re at 14 percent now, we were at 17 percent just a couple of years ago. We still feel like we have a long way to go, but we feel really good about the progress that’s been made in recent years," Tormala said.

Tormala said that in the last few years, the smoking rate among adults has dropped from around 20 percent to 16 percent. He says that represents some 200,000 Arizonans who quit smoking.

The report can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/statereport.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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