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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2021

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 of treating associated illnesses.87 More than 480,000 annual deaths are attributable to tobacco use, making tobacco more lethal than all other addictive drugs. Nearly 90% of smokers start smoking by age 18. Each day, nearly 1,500 youth, ages 12–17, smoke their first cigarette, and another more than 845 youth and young adults who are occasional smokers become daily smokers.88 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, 2000–2019
Indicator BEH1: Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days by grade, 2000–2019

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 2019, the percentages of 10th- and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days continued to be the lowest in the history of the survey.
  • In 2019, 1% of 8th-grade students, 1% of 10th-grade students, and 2% of 12th-grade students reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days compared with 7%, 14%, and 21%, respectively, in 2000.
  • Daily cigarette use in the past 30 days was reported by 1% each of male and female 8th graders, by 2% of male and 1% of female 10th graders, and by 3% of male and 2% of female 12th graders.
  • Also, in 2019, 4% of White, non-Hispanic 12th-grade students reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days compared with 2% each of Black, non-Hispanic 12th-grade students and Hispanic 12th-grade students.

table icon BEH1 HTML Table

87 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress: A report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

88 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001, NSDUH Series H-55). Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/ SAMHSA_Digital_Download/PEP20-07-01-001-PDF.pdf