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Despite risks, youth still smoke

Haley Lorenzen, a 16-year-old student at Bowling Green High School, has been smoking since she was 12 years old. She said she started smoking with friends to curb boredom and it has developed into a daily habit. ‘I know it is dangerous, but right now I figure that it is my choice and, yeah, I may be putting my life at risk, but I am going to die anyway,’ Lorenzen said. ‘It also really helps with all the stress in my life.’ Over the past decade teen smoking has decreased dramatically, dropping from 37 percent in 1997 to 21.9 percent in 2005, according to a 2005 Center for Disease Control study.’ A federal study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the brands popular with adults were also popular with 81 percent of teen smokers. Marlboro was the most popular brand among high school students, with 52 percent of students smoking the brand, 21.9 percent smoking Newport and 13 percent choosing Camel. Lorenzen said she does not believe marketing influences her decision to smoke, but agrees that advertisements and media do make smoking look appealing. ‘They make it look like everyone does it,’ Lorenzen said. Junior Jordan Krutsch, who began smoking 7 years ago, said he has noticed people buying different cigarettes because of the images associated with the brands. Hipsters buy Camels and ‘country guys’ smoke Marlboros, he said. Even though cigarette companies say they do not advertise to young people, the effects of marketing and branding still have an affect, Krutsch said. ‘I think that marketing really works. You only have to advertise once or twice and that image is associated with that cigarette,’ Krustch said. ‘Take Camel’s graffiti packs. They look cool and so you associate that cool feeling with that cigarette. That is definitely a way to keep younger people smoking.’ Krutsch said he began smoking because his friends were. It started off small but over the years has turned into a half a pack a day addiction, he said. Though he would love to quit, Krurtsch said he was not at a place where he was ready yet. The days of doctors recommending cigarettes on the nightly news may be over, but smoking a cigarette still does evoke emotions of a certain image, Krutsch said. John, a 17-year-old junior at Perrysburg High School who spoke on the condition that his last name not be used, said he believes’ the pressure to smoke is less than it may have been in the past, but he admits that image did play into his decision to smoke. ‘I hate to admit it, but when I do smoke I kind of feel a little cooler than when I don’t,’ John said. ‘The image of smoking making you cool, or a rebel is still there even though there are Web sites and stuff that try to make it not cool.’ Lorenzen said that because most of her family and friends smoke it makes it easier to continue smoking and to avoid quitting. ‘Everyone around me smokes and it is so hard to quit because I have been doing it for so long, so I figure why not,’ Lorenzen said. While neither Krutsch, Lorenzen or John said they began smoking as a direct response to cigarette marketing, John admitted it might have been a factor. ‘It’s not like I saw an ad and thought, ‘That guy looks so cool! I’m going to smoke now’,’ John said. ‘But it may have affected me in some way.’ Most popular teen cigarette brands: Marlboro- 52 percent Newport- 21.9 percent Camel- 13 percent Source: 2009 Center for Disease Control and Prevention study

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