July 21, 2011 / 8:50 AM / in 8 years

Fewer people see heavy smoking as high risk: survey

A man smokes outside the Taipei railway station January 13, 2010. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The perception by teenagers and young adults that heavy cigarette smoking is a high-risk activity has declined in many states, according to a study on substance abuse and mental health released on Thursday.

The perceived risks of smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day dropped between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 in 14 states among youths aged 12 to 17, and in 31 states among those aged 18 to 25.

Perceived smoking risks also dropped in nine states among those 26 and older, a statement from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said regarding the report.

“No state is free from the unique impact of mental and substance use disorders,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde said in a statement.

“Data like these give states the information they can use to target their prevention and treatment activities for the greatest benefit to their residents,” she said.

Results from the 2008-2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health offer data on the specific behavioral health issues that affect each state. Other data included information on illicit drug use and mental illness.

The study said illicit drug among adolescents between ages 12 and 17 dropped in 17 states between 2002-2003 and 2008-2009.

States with the highest marijuana use, like Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, were also the states with the highest rates of illicit drug use among people 12 or older.

Some 7.2 percent of Rhode Island’s adults experience serious mental illness, the highest level in the nation. Hawaii and South Dakota shared the lowest rate of 3.5 percent.

Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Cynthia Johnston

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