Report says Arizona has 3rd-lowest rate of tobacco use among teens
PHOENIX — Arizona has one of the nation’s lowest rates for tobacco use among teens, according to a new health report.
The 2019 America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report ranked Arizona third in the nation for the rate of young people ages 12-17 using tobacco products.
The report by the United Health Foundation also found tobacco use among teens dropped from 6.8% to 3.6% in Arizona over the past three years.
“It could be that what we’re seeing is a decrease in smoking has meant there is an increase in vaping,” said Janice Huckaby, a senior vice president and regional chief medical officer with UnitedHealthcare.
She said the report does not capture data for e-cigarettes.
Anthony Pickett, an emergency department physician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, said he also believes the decline could be related to more teens using e-cigarettes.
“I do think that there have been successful campaigns on TV that have really focused on those middle school, high school age groups to make smoking the traditional cigarette seem way less desirable,” he added.
Pickett also warned children’s bodies are “more sensitivities to the health consequences of tobacco.” For example, he said exposing their lungs to cigarette smoke puts them at increased risks for asthma.
In addition, early exposure to cigarettes places teens at higher risk for addiction, Pickett said.
“It really doesn’t take much more than a couple of experiences with a tobacco product as a child and now you have a lifelong smoker,” he said.