Wisconsin, Minnesota teens using alcohol, tobacco less

By KBJR News 1

March 21, 2014 Updated Mar 21, 2014 at 10:35 PM CDT

The 20-13 youth risk behavior survey shows that cigarette smoking among teens in Wisconsin has dropped 20 percent in the last 20 years... perhaps evidence that tobacco prevention initiatives are paying off. The vast majority of adult smokers start out as teenagers, and health advocates say the fewer teens smoking, the better.

"Our youth are at risk. Every day, some 3,200 kids try smoking for the first time, and 700 kids go on to become committed smokers every day," said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner.

Across the border in Minnesota, a downward trend in tobacco use continues as well. But in St Louis County, 33 percent of eleventh grade boys and 23 percent of eleventh grade girls admitted to using tobacco in the last 30 days, which is higher than that state average.

"where 24 percent of males reported using tobacco in the last month in eleventh grade, and thirteen percent of females," said Amy Westbrook, Public Director for St Louis County Health Services.

Trends in Wisconsin show a decline in alcohol use among teens as well. That trend mirrors statistics in Minnesota, where fewer teens are consuming alcohol. In St Louis County alone, 66 percent of teen boys did not drink alcohol in the last thirty days, and 73 percent of teenage girls. Westbrook says the numbers are good, but there is still work to do.

"it's certainly good to see the trend going downward but we still want to make sure we're working on preventing alcohol use among adolescent," said Westbrook .

The Wisconsin department of Education says the promising survey results seem to indicate students are paying more attention in the classroom and to the positive influences in their lives

Other areas of concern in the survey include texting and driving by teens, drinking and driving, and bullying and harassment in schools.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati