Department of Health and Senior Services today announced that cigarette
smoking dropped by 42 percent in middle schools and dropped by 11
percent in high schools in New Jersey from 1999 to 2001.
survey results provide evidence that we are making strides toward
protecting New Jersey's future by deterring young people from smoking
and helping smokers to quit," said Governor James E. McGreevey.
"We must build on our successes to help even more young people
avoid using tobacco and preserve their health - and that's why my
proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes $30 million for
the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program and a 50-cent increase
in the tobacco excise tax to reduce smoking by lowering consumption."
youth tobacco survey, conducted
by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - School
of Public Health between October and December 2001 and commissioned
by the Department of Health and Senior Services, included 5,413
middle school students (grades 7 and 8) and 4,176 high school students
(grades 9 to 12) from 115 schools throughout the State. Respondents
were asked about tobacco use in the 30 days preceding the survey,
and results were compared to the 1999 New Jersey Youth Tobacco
the survey findings support trends shown in Monitoring the Future,
a national study, which noted younger age groups are showing the
biggest decline in tobacco use. New Jersey's rate of decline in
current cigarette use among middle school students (42 percent)
exceeded the national numbers, which document a 30 percent decline
among 8th graders. Additionally, current cigarette use among New
Jersey high schoolers declined 11 percent (27.6 percent to 24.5
percent). While these double-digit declines are less dramatic than
those among younger survey respondents, they are a strong indication
of the difficulties associated with breaking an established habit.
tobacco use behavior of New Jersey youths is changing for the better,"
Commissioner Lacy said. "In addition to the 38 percent significant
decrease in the use of all tobacco products, cigarette use among
New Jersey middle school students has declined significantly by
42 percent in just two years. We know that tobacco use starts early-with
fewer middle school students lighting up, there is increased likelihood
that they will avoid pressures to use tobacco in high school, or
fact, the 2001 survey reveals evidence that New Jersey youth want
to quit. Among current high school smokers, 55 percent said they
wanted to quit, and the same percent reported a serious attempt
to quit in the previous 12 months.
difficulties associated with quitting become clearer when weighed
against the strength of the addiction, explained Dr. Lacy: Thirty-eight
percent of survey respondents who smoke reported that they couldn't
go more than three hours without needing a cigarette. Among frequent
smokers, the figure jumped to 48 percent. This, coupled with the
fact that 12th graders who use cigarettes smoke 10 times as much
as an 8th grade smoker, highlights the urgency of prevention education.
survey does provide encouragement to those seeking to quit: In the
past two years, New Jersey also saw a 23 percent decline (13.8 percent
in 1999; 10.6 percent in 2001) in cigarette smoking among frequent
high school smokers (those who smoked 20 or more days in the 30
days preceding the survey).
addition to those who use tobacco, non-users reported significant
exposure to tobacco smoke through environmental tobacco smoke. The
2001 survey found that 52 percent of middle school and 70 percent
of high school students reported exposure to secondhand smoke in
rooms or cars during the seven days preceding the survey.
from other states confirms programs supporting restrictive smoking
policies have the potential to not only reduce exposure from environmental
tobacco smoke, but also to reduce smoking prevalence among all age
groups. Accordingly, DHSS plans to put a strong emphasis on environmental
tobacco smoke in the upcoming year, through support of initiatives
developed by REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies), New Jersey's
youth anti-tobacco movement, and through Communities Against Tobacco
(CAT) coalitions throughout the state.
Jersey's efforts over the past two years have gone a long way to
bring about significant reductions in youth tobacco use. In November
2000, DHSS launched REBEL, the State's teen-led anti-tobacco movement
with 7,000 members throughout all 21 counties. New Jersey also offers
three customized cessation services: New Jersey Quitnet (a free
online resource), New Jersey Quitline (a no-cost toll-free hotline)
and New Jersey Quitservices (a clinic-based cessation program available
at a sliding scale fee).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ranked New Jersey
as 11th among the states in committing a substantial portion of
Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement funds for tobacco control programs.
New Jersey's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is designed to
reduce the sickness, disability, and death among New Jerseyans associated
with the use of tobacco and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
To obtain a complete copy of the 2001 youth tobacco survey, log