The Latest on Teens and Smoking

Declines in tobacco use have leveled off.

In the August 7, 2010 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the findings from the 2009 National Youth Tobacco Survey of 22,679 middle and high school students attending 205 US schools. Last year, 8% of students in middle school and 24% of high school students said they had used tobacco products, such as cigarettes, snuff, and cigars. Five percent of the middle school and 17% of the high school students reported regular tobacco use. The rates of tobacco use were dropping, but have leveled off from 2006-2009.

Although the 2009 numbers are down significantly from 2000, when 15% of middle school students and 34% of high school students reported using some form of tobacco, the rates of tobacco use have leveled off. Interestingly, there was no decline in the percentage of students who said they didn't smoke but might try.

Despite the number and variety of strategies that have been attempted to decrease teen smoking (e.g. education, taxing tobacco products, and advertising restrictions), it appears that none has been tremendously successful in reducing—and hopefully eliminating—smoking in this vulnerable population. Some health experts have called for increased funding of tobacco control programs. State-level funding of tobacco control programs has been shown to correlate with tobacco use; the greater the funding, the less tobacco is used by the youth in the state.

Reference

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Tobacco use among middle and high school students -- United States, 2000-2009." MMWR 2010:59: 1063-1068.