The Big Story Blog

Teens numbing to anti-smoking message?

Posted at 6:20 AM on December 6, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Health

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Maybe it was too much to expect. Anti-smoking campaigns have been so successful the past decade persuading teens to stop smoking (or not to start), it was easy to think tobacco use among young people would be snuffed out eventually.

New data from the Minnesota Health Department, though, suggest it's becoming harder to reach the remaining group of teen smokers.

Here are the telling graphs:


Minnesota Youth Tobacco Surveys offer a detailed look at teen smoking behavior and it shows the efforts have largely succeeded -- but are starting to ebb.

"We've made great progress in reducing tobacco use since 2000, but the most recent findings in this new report give us little to celebrate," Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement.

"We are failing our youth when you consider that they use tobacco at higher rates than adults and are still being exposed to secondhand smoke. We are setting them up for a future of tobacco-related illness and premature death."

The data, though, suggest it may take a lot more effort -- and money -- to persuade the remaining 26 percent still using tobacco products to stop. What else could be done at this point to get them to quit? And, as harsh as it sounds, is it time to ask if it's worth it?

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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