Smoking Loses Ground Among Teens

Smoking among teens and around kids has declined steadily over the years

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When it comes to smoking, teens have been making better choices recently than in years past. Since most smokers start when they’re teens, this decline points to healthy futures.

A recent multi-agency study on the health of American kids and teens looked at smoking and drinking habits over the past 16 years.

The report showed that smoking among teens and secondhand smoke exposure among kids has declined quite a bit over the past few years.

Binge-drinking rates also fell among 8th- to 12th-graders.

"Talk to your teen about the dangers of smoking."

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics recently released a report based on cooperative research between Federal, State and local agencies and several private research organizations.

This report is the sixteenth in an ongoing series of statistics and trends on health and well-being among children and teens in the US.

The report looked at several areas of child and family well-being, including substance use and health.

According to this report, nearly 80 percent of all smokers begin smoking before they reach the age of 18. Every day, roughly 3,800 people under the age of 18 try their first cigarette and an estimated 1,000 minors pick up a daily smoking habit.

The report stated that in the mid-1990s, 10 percent of 8th-graders, 18 percent of 10th-graders and 25 percent of 12th-graders said they had been smoking on a daily basis for at least the past 30 days.

By 2010, only 2 percent of 8th-graders, 5 percent of 10th-graders and 9 percent of 12th-graders said they had been smoking on a daily basis for at least the past 30 days.

The researchers noted that among the 8th-grade students in 2012, the same number of girls and boys were smoking. But among the 10th-graders, 6 percent of boys and 4 percent of girls smoked. And among 12th-graders, 11 percent were male and only 7 percent were female.

Among the 12th-graders in 2012, 12 percent of the smokers were white, 5 percent were black and 5 percent were Hispanic.

Exposure to secondhand smoke can be measured through an enzyme in the blood.

Blood samples from children between 4 and 11 years of age showed that exposure to secondhand smoke dropped from 53 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2010.

Binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks in one sitting) fell from 13 percent in 1996 to 5 percent in 2012 among 8th-graders. Binge drinking also fell from 24 percent to 16 percent among 10th-graders and from 32 percent to 24 percent among 12th-graders.

In a Los Angeles Times article, Danny McGoldrick, vice president of research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said that smoking bans and tobacco-prevention programs were responsible for the decline in smoking among American youth.

"We need to invest in more of what has worked in the past to accelerate these declines," McGoldrick told the Los Angeles Times.

This report was published in July on the Forum On Child And Family Statistics website. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported this project. No conflicts on interest were declared.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 12, 2013
Last Updated:
July 29, 2013