Smoking is losing its fire among teenagers nationwide, according to a recently released study on cigarette use by eighth to 12th graders.

Paul Wong
A Nursing student stubs out her cigarette in an ashtray on Washington Street yesterday.<br><br>JONATHON TRIEST/Daily

The survey said teen smoking rates have dropped for the second consecutive time, falling 28 percent since 1997 and 19 percent since 1999.

The downward trend could be attributed to education and health promotion programs in schools and communities, said Carol Tucker, health education coordinator at University Health Services.

She said UHS offers clinicians who speak to smokers about smoking behavior and provides a “quit kit” with tips for quitting.

A 1999 University study found that 76 percent of University students do not smoke, Tucker added.

Tucker also said she is working with housing to try to make residence halls smoke-free, and is looking forward to providing an online smoking cessation program to make quitting more convenient and to provide students with at-home encouragement.

She added that the online program will be tailored to each individual smoker and will provide online messaging, similar to counseling.

“We have seen a huge change societally in how people perceive smoking,” she said. “They perceive it less and less as an activity that is glamorous, attractive and intriguing and we”d like to continue that trend.

“At the same time, it”s an ongoing battle,” she said. “I don”t think there”s any magic bullet to fight smoking and that has to be addressed on many different fronts. I don”t see the problem being solved in the near future, so it will continue and we need to continue to fight.”

University Students Against Cancer also provides outreach programs serving the University and Ann Arbor community. USAC”s programs are designed to spread awareness among local elementary school students of the dangers of smoking and to help provide high school juniors and seniors with information and methods for quitting smoking if they”ve already started, USAC Internal Vice President Darryl Boyd said.

According to local statistics, 8.9 percent of Ann Arbor 8th graders smoke cigarettes, as do 14.7 percent of 10th graders and 21.2 of high school seniors.

“USAC puts these programs on to make students on and off campus aware that they can play a part in preventing certain cancers and to help them break the cycle if they”re addicted,” he said. “We try to get to students early before they start smoking.”

Statistics for Ann Arbor schools show that local figures are lower than the rest of Michigan when it comes to cigarette use, said service coordinator and coordinator of the Washtenaw County Tobacco Reduction Coalition DeBorah Borden.

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