A federal report says smoking by high school students is at its lowest level in a decade. Mary Hansen-Harrison, spokeswoman for Tobacco Free Iowa, says young smokers are a disappearing breed in Iowa. She attributes the drop to the media messages against smoking the group has put out.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 28-and-a-half percent of high schoolers last year reported they smoked in the previous month, the lowest number since 1991. Hansen-Harrison would like to see the number go still lower, but money for awareness campaigns is getting scarcer. She says it’s troubling to see the efforts hurt by budget cuts.This spring, Iowa lawmakers cut state spending on anti-smoking programs by four million dollars — almost 50 percent of the budget. Hansen-Harrison says there are mixed emotions at Tobacco Free Iowa about the progress they’re seeing in the midst of deep budget cuts.The federal report says the drop in high school smokers is due to steep cigarette taxes, anti-smoking programs in schools and anti-tobacco advertisements.
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