Smoking among teenagers has dropped significantly in the last two years, according to a new survey.
Preliminary results released Wednesday by the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking organization, found that there was an almost 18 percent decline since 2000 in smoking rates among high school students, and a 5.4 percent decline among students in middle school.
In addition, the study -- which was conducted in collaboration with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- showed that students exposed to the foundation's "truth campaign" television ads were much less likely to smoke than those who did not see the anti-smoking television ads.
"The study shows that the truth campaign is the anti-smoking vaccine for kids we've been waiting for," said foundation president Cheryl Healton.
The foundation is funded through a 1998 agreement between the tobacco companies and 46 states, and its television campaign began in early 2000. It has been under political and sometimes legal pressure from tobacco companies to tone down its attacks, which the companies say unfairly demean their employees and are misleading. Healton reiterated Wednesday that the ads would continue, and were essential to the group's message.
"The pressure continues on the foundation and the board," she said. "We see it as a red badge of courage. If the companies aren't upset, then we're not doing our job."
The new results are from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
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