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Reports show state teens smoking, drinking less

Fewer kids in Oklahoma are smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol than a few years ago.

That's according to reports like the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment (OPNA) and the 2017 Kids Count Data Book that reflect things like kids trying out smoking for the first time or behaviors like binge drinking as self-reported by students in anonymous, confidential surveys.

According to the latest OPNA, a statewide survey of students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 conducted every other year by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, declines were recorded in most categories reflecting use or abuse of various substances by kids between 2012 and 2016.

For example, when eighth-graders were asked in 2016 if they'd ever smoked cigarettes, 18.5 percent responded that they had. That compared to 23.1 percent of eighth-graders in 2014 and to 27 percent of eighth-graders in 2012 who reported that they'd tried smoking at least once. The average of all students in the age groups surveyed in 2016 showed that 22.3 percent had tried smoking at least once, as compared to 26 percent in 2014 and to an average of 29.5 percent in 2012. 

When asked about drinking alcohol, 43.2 percent of students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 responded in 2016 that they'd tried alcohol, as compared to 45.6 percent in 2014 and to 49.4 percent in 2012. Asked about binge drinking  consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a row  11.68 percent of state students surveyed in 2016 responded that they had within the previous two weeks. That compared to 13.8 percent who said that they had consumed at least five alcoholic beverages in succession in 2014 and to 16 percent who said that they had in 2012.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which annually produces its Kids Count Data Book to provide insights into the health and well-being of kids across the country, the number of teens who abuse drugs or alcohol declined by three percentage points in Oklahoma in the most recent years it surveyed, and a 2 percent decline was reported nationwide.

The Lawton Constitution

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