Alarming teen smoking rates

DURANT, OK-- 21-year-old, Cody Neese, said she started smoking when she was 18.

The Southeastern Oklahoma junior said, at first it was just a way to relax with friends, but before she knew it, casual smoking turned into a habit.

"Whenever we would get together with our friends, you know, everybody would just smoke or whatever and sit around and talk and eventually built up to smoking every day," Neese said.

Jessi Johnson, the Marshall and Bryan County Tobacco Control prevention coordinator said she's seeing kids start smoking at younger ages than ever before.

"It's very very addictive. You know they put nicotine up there with some of the greater things, like meth, heroin and cocaine," Johnson explained.

The latest Surgeon General report shows that one in four high school students smoke cigarettes.

And while the report shows that the teenage smoking rate is down from earlier decades, the rate of decline has slowed.

"11% of Oklahoma youth grades 9-12 start smoking and the majority of those continue to smoke," Johnson said.

And often, for the rest of their lives.

It's estimated, 1,200 Americans die every day from smoking. While many teens try to kick the habit, it's not easy.Surveys show about half of Oklahoma high school students have tried to stop but couldn't.

"I actually quit in July and I didn't smoke for 5 months. And then I started again," Neese said.


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