Tobacco Use by Louisiana Teens is Higher than National Average According to TFL Research

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CDC reports a nation-wide increase among Black high school students.

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“Reaching out to Louisiana youth, especially during the transition from middle and high school, is crucial,” said Tonia Moore, Associate Director of TFL.

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL), in partnership with LSUHSC’s School of Public Health, recently compared teen tobacco rates to the national average in response to results from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) that highlighted growing trends in tobacco use among African American youth and youth adults. The startling results showed that in Louisiana, high tobacco prevalence is not unique to African Americans. In fact, Louisiana’s teen tobacco rates remain higher than the national average, regardless of race.

In 2011, approximately 36 percent of African Americans and 39 percent of White high school students in Louisiana were tobacco users. These figures experience little change from 2009; this suggests persistently high consumption patterns for both racial groups. The only discernible difference in the data is between middle and high school students. A statistically significant increase in tobacco utilization is observed between middle and high school students regardless of race or type of tobacco product.

Nationally, African American high school students were the only racial/ethnic group to experience an increase in prevalence figures across multiple tobacco products (2011 NYTS). Conversely, national trends for White high school students decreased for any tobacco use, combustible tobacco use and cigarettes. Tobacco utilization in Louisiana, however, remains persistently high regardless of race or tobacco product.

“The data suggests a dynamic change occurs between middle and high school,” said Iben Ricket, Tobacco Epidemiologist at the Chronic Disease Prevention & Control Unit of LSUHSC, School of Public Health. “This change translates into a remarkable increase in tobacco consumption between school levels. This increase is seen across multiple tobacco products and is not isolated to one particular racial group.”

TFL works diligently to raise awareness of how tobacco products are marketed in certain communities, especially in predominantly low-income areas. Tobacco companies spend a massive amount of money marketing their products in stores. As a result, young people under the age of 18 are exposed to a substantial amount of tobacco marketing. While there are several factors that contribute to adolescent smoking, tobacco advertising and promotion at retail stores where tobacco products are sold is undoubtedly one of the most significant.

The Louisiana data highlights a potential relationship among African American tobacco users. African American students in Louisiana experience a higher cigar/cigarillo prevalence compared to their White counterparts. Cigars/cigarillos are the only tobacco product African Americans students consume more of than White students. In other words, White high school students have the highest prevalence for any tobacco use, combustible tobacco use and cigarettes while African American high school students have the highest prevalence of cigar/cigarillos. While noteworthy, the relationship is not statistically significant and a trend or pattern is impossible to discern without a third time point (only 2009 and 2011 time points are provided).

“Reaching out to Louisiana youth, especially during the transition from middle and high school, is crucial,” said Tonia Moore, Associate Director of TFL. “We are constantly working to get local communities involved in TFL’s Defy the Lies initiative, a youth movement that takes down the influence of the tobacco industry and promotes tobacco-free lifestyles, and bring awareness to the media and elected officials as to what tobacco products are being consumed and sold by our youth. The time is now to get a better handle on the large number of youth using tobacco products.”

For a more detailed data brief on youth tobacco trend in Louisiana, please click here or visit

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living
The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Tobacco Control Program (LTCP) coordinate their efforts in tobacco prevention and control by providing statewide coordination of existing tobacco control initiatives, funding innovative community programs for tobacco control, offering services for people who are ready to quit and developing statewide media campaigns to help reduce the excessive burden of tobacco use on the state’s resources and improve the overall health and quality of life in Louisiana. For more information visit To find out more about the dangers of secondhand smoke and show your support for a 100-percent smoke-free Louisiana, visit

About the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)
Founded in 1997, The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s mission is to promote and improve the health and quality of life in Louisiana through public-private partnering at the community, parish and state levels. By fostering collaborative endeavors in the areas of health information, public policy, applied research, and community capacity enhancement, LPHI works to develop community-oriented solutions that improve the health of the Louisiana population. For more information, visit

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Mary Martin Fein
Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)
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