CDC reports steep drop in tobacco use by teenagers

August 23, 2012

Tobacco use by middle school students decreased by nearly half between 2000 and 2001—from 14.9% to 7.1%—and fell from 34.4% to 23.2% among high school students, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). How do you help to continue the downward trend? More >>

Tobacco use by middle school students decreased by nearly half between 2000 and 2001-from 14.9% to 7.1%-and fell from 34.4% to 23.2% among high school students, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A CDC analysis of data from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) found that cigarette use decreased from 10.7% to 4.3% among middle school students (grades 6 through 8) and from 27.9% to 15.8% among high school students (grades 9 through 12). Use of all combustible tobacco products-cigarettes, cigars, tobacco pipes, bidis (small brown cigarettes wrapped in a leaf), and kreteks (clove cigarettes)-fell from 14% to 6.3% among middle school students and from 33.1% to 21% among high school students. The decline in cigarette use continues a downward trend that began in 1997 after years of increasing prevalence in cigarette smoking among children in grades 6 through 12.

The 2011 NYTS surveyed 18,866 students from 178 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, using a self-administered pencil-and-paper questionnaire. Current tobacco use was defined as use of any tobacco product, smokeless or combustible, on at least 1 of the past 30 days.

Cigarettes were the most commonly used form of tobacco among middle school and high school students, followed by cigars (3.5% and 11.6%, respectively), smokeless tobacco (2.2% and 7.3%, respectively), pipes (2.2% and 4%, respectively), bidis (1.7% and 2%, respectively), and kreteks (1.1% and 1.7%, respectively).

The findings of the latest NYTS suggest that US tobacco-control policies and programs have influenced tobacco use, the CDC says, but it notes that such efforts remain underfunded. To build on past gains in decreasing and preventing tobacco use by young people, the CDC urges full funding of tobacco-control programs at CDC-recommended levels, effective population-based measures such as price increases and smoke-free policies, and enforcement of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

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