A new report shows fewer Iowans are buying cigarettes, but the percentage of young people using tobacco has leveled off. The 2009 Tobacco Control Progress Report was compiled by researchers at the University of Northern Iowa.
It shows cigarette consumption in the state dropped 52% from 2006 to 2009. Cathy Callaway, chair of the Iowa Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Commission, gives credit to the buck-a-pack hike in the cigarette excise tax in 2007 and the 2008 Smokefree Air Act. The news is offset by very slight changes in tobacco use among young people.
Callaway believes more funding for the Just Eliminate Lies, or JEL, program would help reduce smoking rates among Iowa youth. JEL is a youth-led, anti-tobacco campaign. The study found awareness of the campaign by young people decreased between 2004 and 2008. Callaway says state funding for the program also dropped off over that same period, so fewer JEL ads were being produced.
“Across the state, we’ve had to limit the amount of advertising we’re able to do because of the budget,” Callaway said. “That really is impacting the number of students that are being reached by that message.” The study shows cigarette use among high school students was at 19.9% in 2008, up slightly from 19.5% in 2004.
Callaway believes JEL messages helped reduce tobacco use by Iowa kids earlier this decade.