The state’s other two grades were a D for smoke-free air and a C for cessation programs and help. That’s nothing to brag about, Gilman said.
“The Granite State should be embarrassed to have the highest youth smoking rate in our region,” Gilman said. “Tobacco use costs the state too much in healthcare costs and lives each year, and there is simply not enough being done to discourage youth from smoking and to help smokers quit.”
Sean Cox, a health teacher at Salem High School, said he thinks fewer students are smoking, but still more light up than anyone would like to see.
“I’ve been here 30 years and I remember walking into bathrooms where there were just tons of smoke,” he said. “We haven’t seen that in 10 years.”
While today’s students certainly have been taught about the dangers and health risks associated with smoking or chewing tobacco, he said, more could be done.
“I wish when they lowered the tax they increased the information that was put out there,” Cox said. “We don’t spend on education like a lot of states do. As an educator, I would like to see more opportunities to get the word out.”
And, he added, he does think a higher tax rate would reduce teen smoking.
“I do feel that it would be a deterrent. Money is still an issue among teens,” Cox said. “If it was more expensive, I think it would be a factor in slowing rate of purchase.”
Staff writer Jo-Anne MacKenzie contributed to this report.