Tobacco Use By Young People
- Each day in the United States, approximately 3,900 youths aged 12-17 try their first cigarette.1
- If current patterns of smoking behaviors continue, an estimated 6.4 million of today’s children can be expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.2
- Although the percentage of high school students who smoke has declined in recent years, rates remain high: 23% of high school students report current cigarette use (smoked cigarettes one or more of the 30 days preceding the survey).3
- Non-Hispanic white high school students (26%) are significantly more likely than black (13%) and Hispanic high school students (22%) to report current cigarette use.3
- Fifty-four percent of high school students have ever tried cigarette smoking (even one or two puffs).3
- Sixteen percent of high school students have smoked a whole cigarette before age 13.3
- Nine percent of high school students smoked cigarettes on 20 or more of the 30 days preceding the survey.3
- Eight percent of high school students used smokeless tobacco (14% males and 2% females), on one or more of the 30 days preceding the survey.3 Adolescents who use smokeless tobacco are more likely than nonusers to become cigarette smokers.4
- Fourteen percent of high school students smoked cigars, cigarillos, or little cigars on one or more of the 30 days preceding the survey.3
Health Effects of Tobacco Use by Young People
- Cigarette smoking by young people leads to immediate and serious health problems including respiratory and nonrespiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use.4,5
- Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer. For most smoking-related cancers, the risk rises as the individual continues to smoke.4,5
- Cigarette smoking causes heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease, and cancers of the lung, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and bladder.4,5
- Use of smokeless tobacco causes cancers of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus; gum recession; and an increased risk for health disease and stroke.4,5
- Smoking cigars increases the risk of oral, laryngeal, esophageal, and lung cancers.5,6
Nicotine Addiction Among Young People
- The younger people begin smoking cigarettes, the more likely they are to become strongly addicted to nicotine. Young people who try to quit suffer the same nicotine withdrawal symptoms as adults who try to quit.4
- Several studies have found nicotine to be addictive in ways similar to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Of all addictive behaviors, cigarette smoking is the one most likely to become established during adolescence.4
- Among high school students who are current smokers, 55% have tried to quit smoking during the 12 months preceding the survey.3
Tobacco Sales and Promoting to Youth
- All states have laws making it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18, yet 49% of students under the age of 18 who purchased or attempted to purchase cigarettes in a store or gas station during the 30 days preceding the survey were not asked to show proof of age.3
- Cigarette companies spent more than $15.2 billion in 2003 to promote their products.7
- Children and teenagers constitute the majority of all new smokers, and the industry’s advertising and promotion campaigns often have special appeal to these young people.8
- Eighty-three percent of young smokers (aged 12-17) choose the three most heavily advertised brands: Marlboro, Camel, and Newport.9
Health Effects in Youth of Secondhand Smoke
- More than 6 million youth are exposed to secondhand smoke daily, and more than 10 million youth aged 12-18 live in a household with at least one smoker.10
- Twenty-two percent of middle school students and 24% of high school students are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home.10
- Those most affected by secondhand smoke are children. Because their bodies are still developing, exposure to the poisons in secondhand smoke puts children in danger of severe respiratory diseases and can hinder the growth of their lungs.11
- Secondhand smoke exposure during childhood and adolescence may increase lung cancer risk as an adult,12 and can cause new cases of asthma or worsen existing asthma.13
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: (Office of Applied Studies). Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005; NSDUH Series H-27; DHHS publication no. (SMA) 05-4061.
- CDC. Office on Smoking and Health, 2002 calculations based upon: Smoking attributable mortality and years of potential life lost United States, 1984. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1997;46:444-451.
- CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance United States, 2005 [pdf 300K]. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report 2006;55(SS-5):1-108.
- CDC. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People, A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1994.
- CDC. The Health Consequences of Smoking, A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004.
- CDC. Cigar smoking among teenagers United States, Massachusetts, and New York, 1996 [pdf 300K]. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report 1997;46(20):433-439.
- Federal Trade Commission. Cigarette Report for 2003. Washington, DC: Federal Trade Commission; 2005 [pdf 220K].
- CDC. Reducing Tobacco Use, A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health: 2004 Detailed Tables, Tobacco Brands. [pdf 110K] Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies; 2005.
- Farrelly MC, Chen J, Thomas KY, Healton CG. National Youth Tobacco Survey, Legacy First Look Report 6. Youth Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke. Washington, DC: American Legacy Foundation. May 2001.
- CDC. Secondhand smoke exposure among middle and high school students Texas, 2001 [pdf 210K]. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report 2003;52(8):152-154.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Summary of Findings from the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 2001.
- Glantz SA, Parmley WW. Passive smoking and heart disease: mechanisms and risk. Journal of the American Medical Association 1995;273(13):1047-1053.