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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

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.97 Over 480,000 annual deaths are attributable to tobacco use, making tobacco more lethal than all other addictive drugs. Nearly 90 percent of smokers start smoking by age 18. Each day, more than 3,200 young people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and another 2,100 youth and young adults who are occasional smokers become daily smokers.97 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, 1980–2016
Indicator BEH1: Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days by grade, 1980–2016

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 2016, the percentages of 8th-, 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 2016, one percent of 8th-grade students, 2 percent of 10th-grade students, and 5 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 percent, 18 percent, and 25 percent.
  • Rates among 8th- and 10th-grade male and female students were similar; however, by 12th grade, the rates begin to diverge by gender: 6 percent of male and 4 percent of female 12th-grade students reported daily smoking in 2016.
  • Also in 2016, about 6 percent of White, non-Hispanic 12th-grade students reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days, compared with 4 percent of Black, non-Hispanic and 3 percent of Hispanic 12th-grade students.

table icon BEH1 HTML Table

97 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress. A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: 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.