Though more and more teenagers in Washington are reducing their consumption of tobacco after a recent Minnesota’s smoking ban, health officials continue to face a battle with marketing campaigns promoting the use of nicotine.

"What we're seeing here, as well as across the country is a cultural shift," said Lisa Marshall, a health educator for the St. Paul/Ramsey County Health Department. "People are more and more aware of the health effects of what happens when you smoke."

A recent Minnesota study noted shrinkage in usage; however it also noted that getting access to tobacco was pretty easy for these teenagers. In Washington County, where the issue came up recently, commissioners voted to restrict youth access to tobacco. A lot of those students had never had a smoke, but some confessed to have smoked even when they were less than 10 years.

A stringent law was passed on how tobacco was to be sold, behind the counter.

It was noted that use of tobacco among high school students has declined by 9 per cent since 1998. It has fallen by 10 per cent among ninth graders, 18 per cent among 12-th graders and it was relatively minor in sixth graders.

Washington is known to be licensing about 20 per cent of all tobacco in the county. About 97 percent of tobacco was refused to minors last year.However, loud tobacco ads still continue to be a threat.

In fact, if you try to Google for "free cigarettes" 12.7 million hits will show up, and another with "cigarette coupons" shows up nearly half a million.Tobacco companies use colors, flavors, design and style quotient to lure the kids into smoking.

"They're constantly working on new products which will appeal to youth," she said. In St. Paul, tobacco advertising is heavier in ethnic neighborhoods. "They see a target, I think. The perception is the inner-city youth will be appealed to more with that kind of thing," Marshall said.