Smoking on the Decline?

Tobacco addiction may be less in the future as kids are less likely to pick up the habit

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

(RxWiki News) The youth population picking up a smoking habit is a serious concern. It's a good thing that prevention efforts to keep adolescents from starting to smoke may actually be working.

Data collected over the course of six years shows smoking rates for young people are slowly declining over time. It may be slow going, but at least it’s going in the right direction.

"Talk to your kids about the dangers of tobacco use!"

From data collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2004-2010, evidence is showing that young people’s smoking patterns are changing. They surveyed 157,524 people from the ages of 12 to 17 and 158,794 people from ages 18-25.

Slowly, but surely, adolescent smoking has lessened over the years.

In 2004, 11.9 percent of adolescents surveyed had smoked at least one cigarette in the last month. While in 2010 the rate had dropped to 8.3 percent. These numbers translate into later use as well. Thirty-nine-and-a-half percent of young adults reported smoking in 2004 and, in 2010, that number dropped to 34.2 percent.

These results are a definite improvement, yet SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde cautions: “Although some progress has been made in curbing youth smoking, the fact remains that one in 12 adolescents currently smoke and one in three young adults smoke—which means that far too many young people are still endangering their lives.”

When it comes to daily smoking, those rates have shrunk as well.

According to the NSDUH report, adolescent daily smokers went from 3.3 percent in 2004 to 1.9 percent in 2010. Predictably, this also spilled over into the young adult smoking population. 20.4 percent of young adults were daily smokers in 2004, while only 15.8 percent were in 2010.

Heavy smoking is also on the decline. Young adult smokers who consume 26 or more cigarettes every day, went from 6 percent in 2004 to 3.4 percent in 2010.

Formerly, a big part of the problem stemmed from retail sales of cigarettes to underage youths. SAMHSA and the Synar Amendment program work together on both the state and federal level to prevent the sale of nicotine to the underage population.

Over the length of the 14-year program, illegal tobacco sales to underage buyers has decreased by 9.3 percent.

This study is available on the SAMHSA website, which is a government agency and is part of the public domain.  

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 21, 2012
Last Updated:
July 31, 2012