Recent high school cigarette use remains stable, reports CDC

July 18, 2008

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that while smoking prevalence among high school students declined from 1997 to 2003, it has remained stable between 2003 and 2007.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered between 1991 and 2007, and found that while smoking prevalence among high school students declined from 1997 to 2003, it has remained stable between 2003 and 2007.1

As a component of the CDC?s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, the YRBS uses independent, three-part cluster samples of the 1991-2007 surveys to obtain representative data of students in grades 9-12 in public and private high schools nationwide, with sample sizes ranging from 10,904, to 16,296.2 Each section of students completed the same anonymous questionnaires about cigarette use.

For the YRBS, three behaviors were looked at over the course of the survey: lifetime use of cigarettes (tried, never tried), current use of cigarettes (smoked at least once during the 30 days prior to the survey), and current frequent use of cigarettes (having smoked 20 or more times prior to the survey).

The analysis indicated that the prevalence of current cigarette use increased from 27.5% in 1991 to 36.4% in 1997, and declined to 21.9% in 2003. It also found that the prevalence of current frequent cigarette use increased from 12.7% in 1991 to 16.8% in 1999, but then declined to 8.1% in 2007.1

According to the CDC, the 2010 national health objective of reducing cigarette use among high school students to below 16% can be reached if the decline in use seen between 1997 and 2003 resumes. To achieve this, coordinated evidence-based strategies, as well as comprehensive tobacco-control programs, need to be put into place, the CDC stated.

Use across racial/ethnic groups suggests that lowering the rate to below 16% may be attainable. YRBS showed that cigarette use stayed stable with white and Hispanic students from 2003 to 2007, but use continued to decline among black students, most of whom were female. From 2001 to 2007, rates remained stable among black male students, while black female students showed a continued decline in use between 1999 and 2007, and had the lowest rate of use among all sex and racial/ethnic groups.1

References
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cigarette Use Among High School Students--United States, 1991-2007. MMWR 2008;25:689
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC Methodology of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. MMWR 2004;RR12:1