Updated 03/08/2012 04:24 PM
Teen Smoking Rates Drop But Surgeon General Wants More Efforts To Combat Youth Tobacco Use
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Fewer teens in the United States are smoking, but the U.S. Surgeon General wants more done to combat the addiction among young people.
Government data shows the country's rate of high school smokers has dropped to 19.5 percent.
This is the surgeon general's first report on youth smoking since 1994, when over 27 percent of high school-aged teens were smoking, but the rate of decline has slowed.
The city Department of Health notes that teen smoking rates have dropped even more dramatically in the five boroughs, from 17.6 percent in 2001 to only 7.2 percent in 2010.
That has the surgeon general, Dr. Regina Benjamin, calling for more to be done to stop teens from lighting up in the first place.
Benjamin said the rest of the nation can learn from New York City's efforts.
"Science tells us sustained multi component programs prevent young people from starting to use tobacco. We saw this approach in New York City when they cut youth smoking in half in as little as six years," said Benjamin.
Smoking bans, ad campaigns and higher taxes on tobacco products are among the suggestions.
People who start smoking as teenagers increase their chances of long-term addiction.