Fewer Teens Lighting Up

Smoking among middle and high school students in the US has been decreasing

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Considering that most smokers start before turning 18, it’s important that minors don't pick up the habit. Fortunately, smoking among American youth has been losing popularity.

A recent study looked at the trends of tobacco use among middle and high school students in the US.

The results of the study showed that tobacco use in all forms has fallen among all subgroups of students over a 12-year period.

"Talk to your kids about avoiding tobacco."

René A. Arrazola, MPH, from the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, led researchers to investigate the use of tobacco among US youth.

According to these researchers, most people who use tobacco products began experimenting with tobacco before turning 18 years of age.

For this study, the researchers looked for trends in tobacco use among middle and high school students in the US. The researchers collected data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) from 2000 through 2012.

The survey asked questions about habits and patterns of use concerning six types of tobacco products:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Smokeless tobacco (dip, chew, etc.)
  • Pipe tobacco
  • Bidis (tobacco wrapped in a tendu leaf)
  • Kreteks (clove or flavored cigarettes)

Surveys were collected from 18,219 students in 2000 and only 9,198 students in 2011.

Based on the survey results, overall tobacco use fell from 33.6 percent to 20.4 percent from 2000 to 2011.

The use of only one tobacco product fell from 18.8 percent to 10.5 percent, and the use of two or more tobacco products fell from 14.7 percent to 9.9 percent.

The use of cigarettes plus one other tobacco product fell from 7.9 percent to 4.7 percent, while the use of only cigarettes fell from 14.0 percent to 4.7 percent.

Among young men, the use of tobacco fell from 37.5 percent to 25.3 percent. And among young women, the use of tobacco fell from 29.6 percent to 15.4 percent.

Tobacco use among non-Hispanic whites fell from 37.1 percent to 21.9 percent.

Cigarette-only use among Hispanics fell from 9.8 percent to 4.1 percent.

Tobacco use among non-Hispanic blacks fell from 25.4 percent to 19.8 percent.

“We estimate that, in 2012, approximately one of five high school students in the United States were currently using some form of tobacco, and nearly half of this group were poly tobacco users [used tobacco in more than one form],” wrote the study authors.

The researchers expressed concern over possible associations between tobacco use and the use of alcohol, other illegal substances and risky behavior.

This study was published in September in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

No outside funding sources were used. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Review Date: 
October 1, 2013
Last Updated:
October 1, 2013