The Christian Science Monitor Weekly

Vol 106 / Issue 33 - 34

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US teens exhibit less risky behavior Teenage smoking and drinking show decline in biennial survey B eing a teenager in America is becoming less of a risky business. In the past few decades, the per- centages of teens smoking and getting into fghts at school have been cut by at least half. Numbers have also gone down for sexual activity, alcohol and drug use, and a range of health-related factors such as soda drinking. "It's encouraging that high school students are making better health choices such as not fighting, not smoking, and not having sex," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Cen- ters for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement, adding, "We need to invest in programs that help them make healthy choices so they live long, healthy lives." The CDC released the lat- est National Youth Risk Behavior Survey June 12. It's conducted every two years with a na- tional sample of about 13,000 high-schoolers. Out of 13 indicators the survey tracks on teen tobacco use, 11 showed a decrease over the past few decades. The percentage of students who had smoked cigarettes at least once in the past 30 days (current smokers) was 15.7 percent, the lowest fgure since tracking began in 1991. At the peak in 1997, some 36.4 percent of teens were current smokers. Since the late 1990s, there have also been dramatic reductions in trying cigarettes and in the percentage who smoke daily. Experts on teen smoking attribute the prog- ress to several factors in the late 1990s: the removal of Joe Camel as a marketing image and the settlement agreement with tobacco compa- nies in 1998 after many state attorneys general sued. The agreement stopped other marketing directed at children and resulted in a hike in cigarette prices, because the companies had to pay for health costs attributed to addiction. States also enhanced enforcement of laws against selling cigarettes to minors. "[P]eople always said,... 'Kids will always smoke. You can't do anything about it.' But now we see you can," says Joseph DiFranza, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. "It's not natural to OUT OF 13 INDICATORS TRACKED ON TOBACCO USE, 11 SHOWED A DECREASE OVER DECADES. V SEE PAGE 20 LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN Poverty has fallen by half to 12.3 percent, 34 percent of the region's population can now be called middle-class, and more people are middle-class than in poverty for the frst time. SOURCE: The World Bank SWEDEN Between 1970 and the start of this year, the number of road deaths declined by 80 percent despite an increase in vehicles and population. In 1997 the Swedish parliament launched a 'Vision Zero' plan aimed at eliminating accidents altogether. Many cities – including New York – are studying the model, which includes lower speed limits and better crossings. SOURCE: Vision Zero Initiative UNITED STATES Total estimated charitable giving rose 4.4 percent in 2013 over 2012, to $335.17 billion. Giving by individuals accounted for some $240.60 billion, rising 4.2 percent in 2013 – and was the largest contributor to the increase in total charitable giving. SOURCE: Giving USA Foundation/Indiana University Lilly Family School Of Philanthropy RICH NATIONS, POOR NATIONS Development aid rose by 6.1 percent in real terms in 2013 to hit the highest level ever recorded, despite continued pressure on budgets in developed countries since the global economic crisis. Donors provided a total of $134.8 billion – a rebound after two years of decline. SOURCE: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development POINTS OF PROGRESS

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