According to a recent survey, one in four middle school-aged children in the state use tobacco products. This statistic, along with several others, was obtained through the Louisiana Youth Tobacco Survey (LYTS).
The Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health Tobacco Control Program and Chronic Disease Epidemiology Unit conducted the survey in Spring 2001, with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Louisiana Department of Education and other health and education organizations. The survey results are intended to guide and evaluate youth tobacco use prevention efforts and campaigns.
“Although it is distressing to learn so many youth in our state are using tobacco products, we hope results such as these can help us determine better prevention methods,” said LDH Secretary David W. Hood. “Recent results from our state Synar Report show fewer retailers are selling tobacco products to minors. We are very proud of our progress in that area, and we hope to continue curbing sales and usage through other methods until we can drastically reduce the number of Louisiana children using tobacco.”
More than 3,000 students in the middle school grades (sixth through eighth) who attended public schools throughout the state took the survey. Thirty-five public schools located throughout the state participated. The survey contained 75 questions relating to tobacco product usage, knowledge and attitudes, as well as demographic questions.
The survey showed that the rate of tobacco use among public middle school students is 26.3 percent, which exceeds the national median of 15.1 percent. More than 100,000 students in this age group have ever tried some form of tobacco, and an estimated 22,000 had smoked a cigarette before reaching age 11. The results also showed that boys are more likely to have smoked by age 11 than girls, and African-American children are less likely to do so than Caucasian children.
Students also said their most common method of obtaining cigarettes and other tobacco products was to give money to an older person and have that person purchase the products, or to take the products from family members or friends who smoke.
OPH Tobacco Control Program plans to unveil the official results of this survey during the Statewide Tobacco Control Conference, held in conjunction with the Louisiana Public Health Association Conference, April 8-11 at the Radisson Hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans. The conference is open to anyone interested.
For more information, contact Diane Hargrove-Roberson, administrator of the Tobacco Control Program, or Kenyatta Colbert, media coordinator, at (504) 568-3596.
To view the survey results online or to learn more about tobacco prevention programs in Louisiana, please go to the OPH Web site, http://oph.dhh.state.la.us/chronicdisease/tobaccocontrol/index.html.