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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016

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.62 Over 480,000 deaths are attributable annually to tobacco use, making tobacco more lethal than all other addictive drugs. Nearly 87 percent of smokers start smoking by age 18. Each day in the United States, approximately 2,300 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 450 youth in that age group become daily cigarette smokers.63 Smoking rates vary greatly by race and ethnicity. The high rate of use and the consequences of cigarette smoking underscore the importance of studying patterns of smoking among adolescents.

Figure 20: Percentage of 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days by race and Hispanic origin, 1980–2015
Percentage of 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days by race and Hispanic origin, 1980–2015

NOTE: Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected separately.

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

  • In 2015, the percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily in the past 30 days has continued to be the lowest since data collection began in 1980. In 2015, 1 percent of 8th-grade students, 3 percent of 10th-grade students, and 6 percent of 12th-grade students—down from 9 percent, 16 percent, and 22 percent, respectively, in 1995—reported smoking in the past 30 days.
  • In 2015, among 12th-graders, an estimated 7.3 percent of White, non-Hispanic students reported daily cigarette use in the past month—this is nearly twice as many as the 4 percent of Black, non-Hispanic and 3.7 percent of Hispanic students that reported regular cigarette use.
  • Since 2000, the largest decline in regular cigarette use among 12th-graders was a 76 percent drop reported by Hispanic students—from 16 to 4 percent. Among Whites, there was a 70 percent decline in the same time period—from 26 to 7 percent. Among Black, non-Hispanics, the rate of regular cigarette use dropped by 50 percent—from 8 percent to 4 percent.

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62 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. (2014). The health consequences of smoking: 50 years of progress. A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/full-report.pdf

63 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed tables. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs2014/NSDUH-DetTabs2014.pdf