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Kids and smokes
Fewer young people smoking cigarettes

Date published: 1/22/2013

TELLING young people that an activity may harm or kill them seldom succeeds as a deterrent. But maybe not when it comes to smoking cigarettes. Who says wisdom and foresight are beyond youthful reach?

The Virginia Youth Tobacco Survey reports that the number of high-school students who smoke dropped from 28.5 percent in 2001 to 13 percent 10 years later. During that period, the number of regular middle-school smokers shrank from 10.6 percent to 3 percent.

Even more remarkable is that the National Centers for Disease Control puts the U.S. rate for high-school smokers at 18 percent--five points higher than in Virginia, whose heritage is entwined with the Golden Leaf.

A round of applause is due the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth for helping educate young people about the dangers of smoking and persuading them not to light up. The demise of "Joe Camel" and youth-targeted tobacco ad campaigns have also played roles.

That tobacco kills more people each year than HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol, motor-vehicle accidents, suicide, and murder combined should convince anyone, of any age, that smoking cigarettes is more than just a stinky habit.