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CDC Reports Shift In Teen Behaviors

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Prevention
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Less cigarette smoking, soda drinking and physical fighting, but more time at computers and other tech devices, that's the snapshot from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The government goal of reducing teen smoking nationally to less than 16 percent has been met. But CDC’s director, Dr. Tom Frieden, notes that it's a fragile victory at 15.7 percent – and it comes with a rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, smoking pens and electronic hookahs.

"And no kid should be exposed to advertising that glorifies the use of nicotine or be able to easily buy e-cigarettes because their sales have not been restricted," Frieden stresses.

Earlier this year the Kentucky legislature banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Kentucky's teen smoking rate is more than two full percentage points above the national average at just under 18 percent.

Frieden's other concerns are that condom use has become less common and most teens are still not eating a balanced diet.

While most young people are spending fewer hours watching television, they've replaced much of that time with time spent before a computer beyond school reasons.

Dr. Stephanie Zaza is the director of the division of adolescent and school health at the CDC. She says while the CDC has a lot of great data, it does not have the reasons why children do the things that they do.

She finds it alarming that 41 percent of teen drivers admit to texting or e-mailing while driving, and she urges parents to step in to stop any behavior that takes a teen's attention away from the road.

"Parents play an active role in keeping their teen drivers safe by close monitoring, frequent discussions, parent-teen driving agreements and acting as a role model of good driving habits," Zaza explains.

The CDC reports that car crashes are the single biggest killer of teens and young adults, causing 23 percent of deaths among 10 to 24-year-olds.

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