More than 1 in 5 teens still use tobacco, says CDC

Dec. 10, 2014—Cigarette smoking among teens has decreased in recent years, but tobacco still remains a problem among American youth. In fact, new findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that use of some noncigarette tobacco products has increased. Overall, an estimated 5.6 million kids are at risk for dying prematurely from a smoking-related disease.

About the study

CDC analyzed data from the 2013 Youth Tobacco Survey, a cross-sectional, self-administered questionnaire given to over 18,000 middle and high school students. In the survey, nearly 23 percent of high school students and 7 percent of middle school students reported using a tobacco product within the last 30 days. Nearly half of all high school students and 17 percent of middle school students say they’ve used a tobacco product within their lifetime.

Combustible tobacco products were noted as the most popular among youths, including use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs. Almost 5 percent of high schoolers and slightly more than 1 percent of middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes within the last 30 days.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 1/3 of youth who continue smoking into adulthood will die about 13 years earlier than their nonsmoking peers. The findings suggest that continued efforts—such as youth-focused media campaigns and higher product pricing—are needed to discourage tobacco use among tweens and teens to protect their health into adulthood.

Learn more about the data in the Morbitity and Mortality Weekly Report from CDC.

The take-home message
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America, according to CDC. And though most young people believe that they’ll be able to quit smoking, CDC estimates roughly 3 out of 4 high school smokers will continue smoking into adulthood.

Parents play an important role in helping children make healthy choices about tobacco use. Here’s what you can do to help yours:

  • Share the facts. Talk with your child about the health effects associated with tobacco use and how difficult it is to quit using tobacco once you’ve started.
  • State your expectations. Make it clear that tobacco use is not acceptable.
  • Offer help. If your child is already using tobacco, help him or her quit.
  • Maintain awareness. Know what your child is doing and with whom he or she spends time.
  • Work with others. Network with other parents to help your kids refuse tobacco. Encourage your child’s school to enforce tobacco-free policies for students, faculty and staff.
  • Set a good example. Avoid using tobacco. If you use tobacco, there are many tips that can help you quit.


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