HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - A new study suggests the number of Kentucky high school students who smoke is declining.
The smoking rate among the state's high schoolers in 2013 was 17.9 percent, down more than six percent from two years earlier, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control.
About 24 percent of Kentucky's high schoolers in 2011 were smokers, according to the CDC.
Kentucky was number one in the category in 2011, but has now fallen to sixth.
"That's definitely a good sign," said Dr. Ibrahim Elsheikh, a pediatrician in Hazard.
Elsheikh believes fewer young adults are lighting up because they have been educated about the dangers of smoking.
"And also they probably realize how dangerous it is because they've seen their grandparents suffer from the consequences," he said.
Rachel Tolson, who works at Drew's Mini Mart in Perry County, said cigarette sales are steady overall but down among young people.
"I don't think it's been a fast decline, but it's been a gradual decline," she said. "You see less and less young people buying cigarettes. I think too many of them are getting ID'ed, carded and they can't buy them. And hopefully they're getting smarter and not wanting to smoke."
When the CDC started tracking student smoking in 1997, 47 percent of Kentucky students were smokers.
To read the full study, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm