Friday, April 12, 2019

Rural teens 50% more likely to smoke than urban teens

Though teen smoking rates among rural and urban teens have fallen, rural teens are still 50 percent more likely to smoke than their urban counterparts, according to a study newly published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Using data from more than 95,600 adolescents who participated in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, researchers analyzed smoking rates over two periods: 2008-2010 and 2014-2016. Fifteen percent of the youth lived in rural counties," Saumya Joseph reports for Reuters. "Teenage smoking in urban areas fell by half from the first period to the second, after accounting for socioeconomic factors such as gender, race, ethnicity and family income. But it only went down by a third in rural places."

The study didn't examine why more rural teens smoke, but earlier research has found that rural teens tend to have easier access to tobacco products, start smoking earlier and are more likely to have family members in their home who smoke, Joseph reports.

Smoking cessation efforts should pay attention to the differences in rural areas and try to understand better how policies and programs might work differently there, said lead study author Erika Ziller of the University of Southern Maine.

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