Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Ky. kids lighting up younger

Study finds early loyalty to brands

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Many kids in Kentucky start smoking in sixth grade and are brand-loyal to Marlboros or Newports by the end of middle school.

        Kentucky's first survey of tobacco use among schoolchildren indicates that they are more likely to consume cigarettes than cigars or smokeless tobacco — and they are using them at rates that outpace the rest of the nation and Tristate.

        In fact, Kentucky middle schoolers were twice as likely as Kentucky high school students to report they had first smoked an entire cigarette or cigar or had used snuff or chewing tobacco before age 11.

        “What middle school kids are telling us is that they're starting significantly younger than the high schoolers,” said Ellen Hahn, a University of Kentucky registered nurse and an author of the survey.

        About 50 percent of the Kentucky middle schoolers surveyed said they had tried cigarettes at least once. Twenty percent had smoked cigarettes on one or more of the previous 30 days. About a third of that group said they had smoked on 20 or more days in the same period.

        The survey released Tuesday was conducted by the state Department for Public Health in collaboration with the University of Kentucky College of Nursing and the federal Centers for Disease Control.

        In Indiana, CDC studies show, 3.1 percent of sixth-graders and 15.5 percent of ninth-graders were daily users of tobacco. In Ohio, 18.7 percent of middle schoolers use tobacco; 13.7 percent smoke cigarettes.

        The Kentucky report recommends making tobacco products more expensive.


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