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Teen Risk Survey Shows Personal Safety Changes

GRAPHIC: The new CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows 12 percent of Idaho teens identify themselves as smokers. Photo credit:
GRAPHIC: The new CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows 12 percent of Idaho teens identify themselves as smokers. Photo credit:
June 19, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - Less cigarette smoking, soda drinking and physical fighting, but more time spent at computers and other tech devices. That's the snapshot from the new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

While the government goal of reducing teen smoking nationally to less than 16 percent has been met, CDC Director Tom Frieden cautions it's a fragile victory - and it comes with a rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes, smoking pens and electronic hookahs.

"No kid should be exposed to advertising that glorifies the use of nicotine," says Friedman, "or be able to easily buy e-cigarettes because their sales haven't been restricted."

In Idaho, the rate of smoking in the survey is better than the national average at about 12 percent.

On the other hand, 83 percent of Gem State teens say they don't wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.

Nationally, Friedman says concerns in the CDC survey include the declining use of condoms among teens, and the inability of most teens to eat a balanced diet. And while the number of hours young people spend watching television has dropped, those hours have been replaced by the amount of time teens spend before a computer in non-school oriented circumstances.

Stephanie Zaza, director of adolescent and school health at the CDC, says while the agency has collected a wealth of helpful data, they still do not have the reasons for why kids do the things that they do. She cites an alarming statistic of 41 percent of teen drivers nationally who admit to texting or e-mailing while driving, and urges parents to step in to stop any behavior that takes a teen's attention away from the road.

"Parents play an active role in keeping their teen drivers safe by close monitoring, frequent discussions, parent-teen driving agreements and acting as a role model of good driving habits," says Zaza.

The CDC reports car crashes are the single biggest killer of teens and young adults, causing 23 percent of the deaths of those between the ages of 10 and 24 years.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID