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Tobacco Use among School Students Declines Over Past 10 Years, but Current Rates of Decline are Slow

Posted Aug 31 2010 10:03am
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, during 2000-2009, the prevalence of current tobacco use among middle school students declined (15.1% to 8.2%), as did current cigarette use (11.0% to 5.2%) and cigarette smoking experimentation (29.8% to 15.0%). The August 27, 2010 report also showed similar trends for high school students, with current tobacco use declining from 34.5% to 23.9%; current cigarette use from 28.0% to 17.2%; and cigarette smoking experimentation from 39.4% to 30.1%.

These trends in tobacco use among youth were analyzed from data from the 2000-2009 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) which collects information on tobacco use and related behaviors and attitudes from middle school and high school students. The NYTS includes measures on prevalence of youth tobacco use, smoking cessation, tobacco-related knowledge and attitudes, access to tobacco, media and advertising, and secondhand smoke exposure and has been conducted approximately every 2 years since 2000.

Although tobacco use decreased over the past ten years for these groups, progress was stalled between 2006 and 2009, with no change in prevalence. This indicates that the current rate of decline in tobacco use is relatively slow and more needs to be done to combat youth smoking. The new restrictions on tobacco product sales and marketing under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act are certainly great strides for tobacco control, but it is clear that we have a ways to go to substantially reduce youth smoking rates.

Partnership for Prevention recommends that youth tobacco prevention and control programs be fully funded to see a major reduction in the prevalence of youth smoking. Specifically, we should focus our efforts on 1) a nationwide public education campaign modeled on the highly successful Truth® campaign that dissuades thousands of young people from initiating tobacco use and encourages smoking cessation and 2) support for existing state and community-based tobacco control programs that reach people where they live, work, play and worship.


Brandi Robinson
Tobacco Control Program Associate
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