Study: Programs cutting youth tobacco use

Posted December 16, 2008 1:56 p.m. EST

— North Carolina's anti-smoking programs are reducing tobacco use among the state's youths, according to a recent University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill study.

The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund spends $17 million annually to fund tobacco use prevention and cessation programs for teens and college students, as well as QuitlineNC, a telephone support service for people who want to quit using tobacco.

An evaluation of the programs by the UNC School of Medicine's Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program showed cigarette use among middle school students declined to 4.5 percent last year from 5.8 percent in 2005 and cigarette use by high school students dropped to 19 percent from 20.3 percent during the same period.

"Relative to other major tobacco-producing states, our evaluation shows North Carolina's investment in youth tobacco prevention is substantial, and the positive outcomes that have resulted are truly encouraging," Dr. Adam Goldstein, UNC program director, said in a statement.

Other findings of the study included the following:

  • By the summer of 2008, all 115 North Carolina school districts had adopted 100 percent tobacco-free policies.
  • In the past two years, 17 North Carolina college campuses have adopted comprehensive tobacco-free campus policies, including at sporting events and in dorms, making North Carolina a national leader in such efforts.
  • Since the trust fund's Teen Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Initiative began, youths and their community supporters have helped promote the adoption of more than 700 tobacco-free policies in youth-frequented venues such as restaurants or churches.
  • During its third year of operation, 1,631 youths and young adults called the QuitlineNC service. Youth calls increased by 31.5 percent, and young adult calls increased by 63 percent.

The study said more anti-smoking efforts are needed among young adults not in college and to reduce youth exposure to second-hand smoke.