Youth smoking rates have not declined since 2004
Classy, cool, badass, sophisticated—nobody thinks of smoking in these terms anymore. Or so we thought. The recent release of the Surgeon General’s first report on youth smoking since 1994 unearthed some surprising realities, such as that, although the percentage of youth smokers under 18 years old had been steadily declining since 1997, progress rates stalled in 2004 and have not decreased since then.
The trend of stalled progress rings true here in Santa Cruz County, where youth smoking has also not declined since 2004. According to the Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition, 40 percent of middle school and high school students report having tried cigarettes. “Smoking sort of goes with the town’s chill, beachy vibe,” local student Stephanie, who gave only her first name, opines.