Alaska Reports Big Drop in High School Smoking

October 15, 2013

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Showing once again that well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention programs work, Alaska reported this week that the state’s high school smoking rate fell to just 10.6 percent this year – a 40 percent drop since 2007.

Alaska’s new rate is far below the national high school smoking rate of 18.1 percent (based on the most recent equivalent national survey, the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey).

Alaska has succeeded by implementing scientifically proven strategies to reduce tobacco use.  The state has had one of the best-funded tobacco prevention programs in the country, ranking first for the past three years in our annual report assessing the states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs.  Alaska is one of the few states that have funded tobacco prevention programs at or near levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alaska also has a cigarette tax of $2 per pack, and about half the state’s population is protected by local laws requiring smoke-free restaurants, bars and other workplaces.

Alaska’s progress demonstrates to other states, and the entire nation, that we can drive down smoking rates by investing in what we know works.

Florida, another state that has invested in tobacco prevention, recently reported that it has reduced high school smoking to just 8.6 percent.  If every state reduced youth smoking to the same low rate as Florida, there would be 1.6 million fewer youth smokers in the U.S.

To keep making progress and create a society free of death and disease caused by tobacco, all states should invest in these life-saving programs.