Report cites need for more youth smoking prevention

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Thursday, March 8, 2012 | Melissa Kakareka | Categories:
One in four American teenagers currently smokes cigarettes. That's according to a new report released by the Surgeon General Thursday. It's a statistic that has many people concerned. Our Melissa Kakareka spoke with an anti-tobacco advocate and tells us what can be done to help solve the problem. BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Anti-tobacco advocates have been working to teach teens about the dangers of smoking for several years. "Smoking is the leading cause of death in our society, as well as the world, so this is something we need to continue to work strongly on," said Broome County Health Department Tobacco Control Coordinator Sharon Fischer. Despite the warnings, many teens continue to smoke. A report released by the U.S. Surgeon General Thursday found progress in reducing youth cigarette smoking has slowed down in recent years. It's a trend largely attributed to the the tobacco industry's marketing techniques in retail stores. "We see large powerwalls of tobacco behind the cash register, bright and colorful displays, what that does is that it makes the youth think that smoking is fun, it's popular, it's glamorous," said Fischer. But what can be done to help solve the problem? Local experts said one way is to prohibit the display of tobacco in stores. They also join the Surgeon General in expressing greater support for fully funded state tobacco control programs. Initiatives that may have been cut or de-funded in recent years. "There is a concern because a lot of states are beginning to decrease funding or even eliminate funding for tobacco control programs because of the economic situation. Locally we've seen ours cut by 50 percent by four years," said Fischer. Steps that may help reduce the number of teen smokers in the future.
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