Smoking Rate Plunges for Arkansas High School Students

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state Health Dept. says the number of high school students smoking in Arkansas is at an historic low.

The department says the smoking rate among high schoolers has dropped from 35.8 percent in 2000 to 20.4 percent in 2007.

Current smoking is defined as smoking on one or more days of the 30 days preceding the survey.  The survey was conducted by the Health Dept. and the Youth Tobacco Study.

Health Dept. director Dr. Paul Halverson says the result is particularly well-received, considering that smoking is linked to most of the top 10 causes of death in the state.

Officials say smoking prevention programs funded by the state tobacco settlement that was spent is behind the reduction.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)