Smoking rates drop in Md.
Tobacco use declines by 14% for teens, more than 9% for adults over past two years, study finds
Smoking rates for the state's adults and teens declined over the past two years, according to a new study by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Among those under 18, tobacco use dropped by 14 percent; for adults, it declined by over 9 percent.
While anti-tobacco groups praised the numbers, they said the improvement would probably not continue if the legislature cut money to the state's tobacco prevention program.
"These numbers are terrific. Those declines are very significant," said Peter Fisher, director of state issues for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. "But if you want to see that continue, you've got to put that money back.
"I think this is really, really good news. It confirms that these programs make a difference," said Joan Stein, who directs the state's tobacco prevention program, and oversaw the study.
The results back up a state-wide study released last August by the Maryland Department of Education. That survey reported large drops in cigarette smoking among several age groups. The Department of Health study interviewed more than 66,000 middle school and high school students, and 15,000 adults, in every county in Maryland, as well as Baltimore city. Surveys were done in 2000 and then again 2002.
The state department of health got help on the study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as well as Macro, a private survey firm.
Maryland has one of the most extensive tobacco prevention programs in the country. Fisher said the new report showed that the strategy was working.
"Maryland is one of the most progressive states as far as tobacco prevention," said Frances Stillman, a professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. An expert on tobacco prevention programs, Stillman has studied state programs around the country.
Compared with most states, Maryland has made good progress in decreasing tobacco use, she said. From 1993 to 1999, Maryland's overall smoking rate declined by 4.3 percent, almost twice the national rate.