Chicago sees drastic decline in youth smoking - FOX 35 News Orlando

CDC Report: Chicago sees drastic decline in youth smoking

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A new study suggests that teens in Chicago have dramatically cut back on their smoking over the last two years.

Like many smokers, Tom McGee started earl at 16 years old. He smoked for 28 years.

"Back then, it was probably a lot like it is now, it was the cool thing to do," McGee says.

He stopped, due to mounting health problems and for a son who was concerned his dad would miss his high school graduation.

"He said, ‘if you keep smoking, we're afraid you're going to be dead,' McGee recalls of his conversation with his son.

McGee is now an avid biker and even helps the American Lung Association organize in its stair-climbing contests.

New data from the Center for Disease Control suggests that Chicago teens are getting a message that McGee never got four decades ago.

"This is really significant," Mayor Emanuel said Tuesday. "We're at the lowest level of kids smoking, on record."

The CDC says smoking among Chicago Public High School students is down 20 percent over the last two years. The city says its aggressive anti-smoking steps are working, including higher taxes, the ban on flavored cigarettes near schools, and the crackdown on e-cigarettes.

"The good news is that we've seen decreases in smoking amongst boys, amongst girls, amongst black youth, amongst Latino youth, which is really, really encouraging," Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair explains.

But smoking among teens is down nationwide. Is Chicago merely part of a trend caused by changing social norms? A spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in Washington discounted that theory, telling FOX 32 that "Chicago is a model for other cities."

Spokesman Peter Fisher said that Chicago's decline in youth smoking is well ahead of the national average and that the city's combination of anti-smoking tactics is the best explanation for the decline.

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