Changes in tobacco use among youths aged 13-15 years - Panama, 2002 and 2008.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009 Jan 09; 57(53):1416-9.MM
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the world today, and the majority of smokers begin using tobacco products before age 18 years. However, before the late 1990s, few countries had reliable data on youth tobacco use. In 1999, the World Health Organization (WHO), CDC, and the Canadian Public Health Association developed the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) to help countries monitor youth tobacco use. At the same time, WHO initiated the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the first international public health treaty on tobacco control. Panama ratified WHO FCTC in 2004 and enacted two key antitobacco regulations in 2005 and 2008. To evaluate progress toward attaining tobacco control goals in Panama, Panama's Ministry of Health, CDC, and WHO compared results from GYTS surveys conducted in Panama in 2002 and 2008. This report summarizes the results of that comparison, which revealed substantial decreases from 2002 to 2008 in youth current cigarette smoking (13.2% versus 4.3%), current use of tobacco products other than cigarettes (9.8% versus 5.8%), and likely initiation of smoking by never smokers (13.8% versus 10.0%). In addition, factors influencing tobacco use showed substantial decreases, including 1) exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) at home and in public places, 2) best friends smoking, 3) protobacco advertising in newspapers and magazines, and 4) having an object with a tobacco company logo on it. These results suggest that comprehensive regulations in Panama helped reduce tobacco use among adolescents and further gains are possible.