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Teen smoking on decline 50 years after Surgeon General warning

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Amarillo, TX - 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the US Surgeon General's warning against the use of tobacco.

While the average age for children to start smoking tobacco in Amarillo is 12 and a half, a local official with Impact Futures says overall usage is on the decline.

"When a kid who is 10,11, or 12 sees somebody speaking through their throat with a microphone, that's scary," said LaViza Matthews who is a Project Director for Impact Futures.

Matthews says Surgeon General commercials are in fact a deterrent, but she says they are not the only factor discouraging kids from smoking.

"The perception of harm has gone up which is a great thing, the disapproval of parents with kids using tobacco that's gone up," Matthews said.

A recent study done with AISD students says 58.6 percent of students disagree with other students using tobacco.

"That peer to peer education just in passing, no, I don't want that cigarette because you know I don't want to get throat cancer," said Matthews. "If we can create that message and solidify that message of the dangers of tobacco and we can solidify that to kids, then of course kids teach each other, sometimes accidentally and sometimes on purpose."

Which is important because Matthews says kids in middle and high school are more likely to be influenced by their peers rather than their parents.

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