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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Regular Cigarette Smoking

Smoking has serious long-term consequences, including the risk of smoking-related diseases and premature death, as well as the increased health care costs with treating associated illnesses.88 Over 443,000 annual deaths are attributable to tobacco use, making tobacco more lethal than all other addictive drugs. Nearly 80 percent of smokers start smoking by age 18. Each day in the United States, approximately 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 1,000 youth in that age group become daily cigarette smokers.89 The high rate of incidence and the consequences of cigarette smoking underscore the importance of studying patterns of smoking among adolescents.

Indicator Beh1: Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days by grade, 1980–2012
Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days by grade, 1980–2012

NOTE: Data for 10th-graders for 2008 are not included because estimates are considered to be unreliable due to sampling error. See http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/09data.html#2009data-drugs.

SOURCE: National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monitoring the Future Survey.

  • In 2012, the percentages of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days were the lowest in the history of the survey.
  • In 2012, some 2 percent of 8th-grade students, 5 percent of 10th-grade students, and 9 percent of 12th-grade students reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days, compared with their respective peaks in the mid-1990s of 10, 18, and 25 percent.
  • Among both male and female 8th-grade students, 2 percent reported daily smoking in 2012, a rate that starts to diverge by gender as children age: among 10th-graders, 6 percent of male and 4 percent of female 10th-grade students reported daily smoking, and 11 percent of male and 7 percent of female 12th-grade students reported daily smoking in 2012.
  • Also in 2012, about 12 percent of White, non-Hispanic 12th-grade students reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days, compared with 5 percent of Black, non-Hispanic and 5 percent of Hispanic 12th-grade students.

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88 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2004). The health consequences of smoking: A report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

89 Hahn, E.J., Rayens, M.K., Chaloupka, F.J., Okoli, C.T.C., and Yang, J. (2002). Projected smoking-related deaths among U.S. youth: A 2000 update. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ImpacTeen Research Paper Series, No. 22.