KNAU and Arizona News
10:22 am
Wed June 13, 2012

AZ Bucks Trend: Teen Smoking Down

The state health department says the rate of teen smokers is down 11 percent. That’s the largest drop of any state in the country. 

The rate of smoking among teenagers is leveling off across the country.

According to the Department  of Health Services, there are about 10-thousand fewer young smokers in Arizona than there were two years ago. 

Wayne Tormala is with DHS. He says the department has changed its messaging.

"We found that kids, “who want to kiss a smoker” what we call the cosmetic approach," Tormala said.  "That just doesn’t resonate anymore, that’s sort of passed. So we went with the addiction and social media. But we’re going to have to change that. Kids keep moving and we’ll have to try to stay one step ahead."

Tormala says DHS also must keep up with tobacco companies which are promoting smokeless tobacco as an alternative to smoking.

"The tobacco industry has done a good job of disguising them, they look like candy mints, they’re colored  they taste good they’re sweet," he said.  "They even have products now that you don’t have to spit, you can swallow. So we’re seeing more and more that’s where we’re going to have to attack on that front."

According to a recent Gallup poll, fewer than twenty percent of all Arizonans are smokers, which is below the national average. DHS says 230-thousand Arizonans have quit smoking in the last five years.