The U-S Surgeon General’s report issued Thursday showed a slight increase in smoking among Iowans — but state officials say efforts to get young kids to quit smoking have worked. Thomas Oldham is president of “Just Eliminate Lies” or “JEL”, the group led by Iowa young people that seeks to tell kids about the dangers of drugs. Oldham says the number of middle and high school kids that smoke is down, but he says there needs to be more funding to keep the effort going. One thing he says would help is a 60-cent increase in the cigarette tax. He says as a teenager, their pockets aren’t as deep. He says he’s talked with friends who say if the price of cigarettes went up, they would stop, because they couldn’t afford it. Oldham, who recently graduated from a Des Moines High School, says college kids would feel the increase too. He says college students are very strapped for cash, and if you raise the tax, it would give them a monetary risk along with the health risk as an incentive to quit. State officials say the increase in smoking in the state is due in part to an increase in immigrants, who tend to smoke more.
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