To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Jenn Smith’s article about teen smoking ("Tobacco use by area teens increases" Oct. 15) was a good introduction to the subject of rising tobacco use by Berkshire County teens, but the article missed an opportunity to present some important analyses from that could be instructive in combating the trend.
While Smith reported that average teen smoking rose from 10.7 percent in 2011 to 12.3 percent this year, the more alarming data point hidden in the sidebar was that by 12th grade, 19.8 percent of students are smoking: That’s a fifth of kids heading into adulthood hooked on cigarettes.
This is up from 16.3 percent of 12th graders smoking in 2011. Also hidden in the sidebar is the increase in smoking from 8th grade (6 percent) to 12th grade (almost 20 percent).
What type of educational programs are being carried out locally -- in the schools and in the community -- to counter these trends? And why are they failing?
Of the kids who reported smoking or chewing smokeless tobacco, what percentage of their parents use tobacco? While the article didn’t say -- there has always been a strong correlation between parental smoking and their kids picking up tobacco.
What kind of educational programs are going on to help parents -- and older siblings -- kick the habit?
It would also be interesting to know whether there are correlations between tobacco use and family income and/or academic performance. Such knowledge might help educational programs be better targeted to more at-risk populations.