Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. SD 3.1 Cigarette Smoking Among Youth

01/01/2000

Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five deaths is caused by tobacco use.29 Youthful smoking can have severe, lifelong consequences because a large proportion of those who initiate smoking in adolescence will continue to smoke as adults.30 In addition, youth who smoke are also more likely to use illicit drugs and to drink more heavily than their nonsmoking peers.31 Youth tobacco use varies within and among racial and ethnic minority groups, and it has been the focus of federal attention in recent years.32

There are an estimated 3 million underage smokers in the United States. In a 1990 study, it was estimated that each year underage smokers purchase 947 million packs of cigarettes and 26 million cans of smokeless tobacco, resulting in $1.26 billion in tobacco sales.33 A 1992 study by the CDC concluded that more than half of underage smokers buy their own cigarettes.34 Although studies also show that only 23 percent of smoking youth now use vending machines often or occasionally, anticipated changes in state enforcement of minors’ access laws may increase the number of underage smokers who use tobacco vending machines.

Daily smoking among 12th-grade students decreased sharply in the late 1970s, and increased throughout most of the 1990s before declining modestly in 1998. Between 1992 and 1997, the percentage of 12th graders who reported smoking daily increased from 17.2
percent to 24.6 percent. In 1999, however, the percentage of 12th graders reporting daily smoking decreased to 23.1 (see Figure SD 3.1).

Data for 8th- and 10th-grade students, available from 1991 through 1999, also show increases throughout the 1990s in the percentage of students who reported smoking daily and a decrease in the last several years of the survey. Among 8th-grade students, the rate increased from 7.2 percent to 10.4 percent between 1991 and 1996 and decreased to 8.1 percent in 1999. Among 10th-grade students, the rate increased from 12.6 percent to 18.3 between 1991 and 1996 and decreased to 15.9 percent in 1999 (see Table SD 3.1.A).

Increases in the prevalence of current smoking among youth are also reflected in the results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which examines “current smoking,” or smoking on one or more of the previous 30 days (see Table SD 3.1.B).

Differences by Age. In general, as age and/or grade increases, so does the prevalence of smoking. In 1999, the percentage of students who report daily smoking was 8.1 percent among 8th graders, 15.9 percent among 10th graders, and 23.1 percent among 12th-grade students (see Figure SD 3.1).

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.35 White students consistently have the highest rates of smoking, while black students consistently have the lowest (see Tables SD 3.1.A and SD 3.1.B). The prevalence of current36 smoking among white students is about twice that of black students. White students are twice as likely as Hispanic students and three times as likely as black students to be frequent37 smokers (see Table SD 3.1.B).

Differences by Gender.38 There is little to no difference in the prevalence of smoking between males and females, with the exception of black youth. Among black youth in grades 9 through 12, males were more likely than females in 1995 and in 1997 to report current and frequent smoking (see Table SD 3.1.B).

Prevalence of Smoking by Frequency. Two to three times the percentage of students report current smoking (smoking on 1 or more of the previous 30 days) than report frequent smoking (smoking on 20 or more of the previous 30 days) (see Table SD 3.1.B). This is apparent across all grades and for all the racial and ethnic groups shown.

 

29 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1993. Cigarette Smoking—Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life Lost-United States, 1990. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 42 (33): 645-649.
30 The Monitoring the Future Study, The University of Michigan. Cigarette Smoking Rates May Have Peaked among Younger Teens. Press release of December 18, 1997.
31 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 1996. Preliminary Estimates from the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Rockville, MD: Public Health Service. 1995 results indicate that youth ages 12 through 17 who smoked were about 8 times as likely to use illicit drugs and 11 times as likely to drink heavily as nonsmoking youths.
32 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1998. Tobacco Use among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics: A Report of the Surgeon General (Executive Summary). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 47 (RR-18): 4.
33 Difranza, J.R., & Tye, J.B. 1990. Who Profits from Tobacco Sales to Children? JAMA 263 (20): 2784-2787.
34 Allen, K., et al. 1993. Teenage Tobacco Use: Data Estimates from the Teenage Attitudes and Practices Survey, United States, 1989. Advance Data 224: 1-20.
35 Estimates reported from the Youth Risk Behavior System for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
36 Current smoking is smoking on 1 or more of the previous 30 days.
37 Frequent smoking is smoking one or more cigarettes per day in the previous 30 days.
38 The 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reports similar rates of cigarette smoking for males and females ages 12 through 17. 1997 responses to questions about use of cigarettes include: 39 percent of males and 38.3 percent of females "ever used," 25.7 percent of males and 27.2 percent of females "used in the past year," and 19 percent of males and 20.7 percent of females "used in the past month." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. "National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Population Estimates 1997," August 1998, Table 14A, accessed at http://www.samhsa.gov/oas/nhsda/pe1997/popes105.htm#E10E107 on 4/29/99.

 

Figure SD 3.1 Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in the United States who reported smoking cigarettes daily over the previous 30 days: Selected years, 1975-1999

Sources: Johnston, O’Malley & Bachman, 2000. 8th- and 10th-grade, Table D-48; 12th-grade Table D-49. 1998 prepublication detail tables provided by Monitoring the Future Study staff.

 

Table SD 3.1.A Percentage of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily over the previous 30 days, by gender and by race and Hispanic origin: Selected years, 1975-1999

  1975 1980 1985 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
8th Grade
Total 7.2 7.0 8.3 8.8 9.3 10.4 9.0 8.8 8.1
Gender  
Male 8.1 6.9 8.8 9.5 9.2 10.5 9.0 8.1 7.4
Female 6.2 7.2 7.8 8.0 9.2 10.1 8.7 9.0 8.4
Race and Hispanic origina, b  
White 7.7 8.8 9.7 10.5 11.7 11.4 10.4 9.7
Black 1.4 1.8 2.6 2.8 3.2 3.7 3.8 3.8
Hispanic 7.3 7.2 9.0 9.2 8.0 8.1 8.4 8.5
10th Grade
Total 12.6 12.3 14.2 14.6 16.3 18.3 18.0 15.8 15.9
Gender  
Male 12.4 12.1 13.8 15.2 16.3 18.1 17.2 14.7 15.6
Female 12.5 12.4 14.3 13.7 16.1 18.6 18.5 16.8 15.9
Race and Hispanic origina, b  
White 14.5 15.3 16.5 17.6 20.0 21.4 20.3 19.1
Black 2.8 3.1 3.8 4.7 5.1 5.6 5.8 5.3
Hispanic 8.4 8.9 8.1 9.9 11.6 10.8 9.4 9.1
12th Grade
Total 26.9 21.3 19.5 19.1 18.5 17.2 19.0 19.4 21.6 22.2 24.6 22.4 23.1
Gender  
Male 26.9 18.5 17.8 18.6 18.8 17.2 19.4 20.4 21.7 22.2 24.8 22.7 23.6
Female 26.4 23.5 20.6 19.3 17.9 16.7 18.2 18.1 20.8 21.8 23.6 21.5 22.2
Race and Hispanic origina, b  
White 23.9 20.4 21.8 21.5 20.5 21.4 22.9 23.9 25.4 27.8 28.3 26.9
Black 17.4 9.9 5.8 5.1 4.2 4.1 4.9 6.1 7.0 7.2 7.4 7.7
Hispanic 12.8 11.8 10.9 11.5 12.5 11.8 10.6 11.6 12.9 14.0 13.6 14.0

a Estimates for whites and blacks include Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
b Estimates for race and Hispanic origin represent the mean of the specified year and the previous year. Data have been combined to increase subgroup sample sizes, thus providing more stable estimates. Note: Data for 8th and 10th grades available since 1991. Sources: Johnston, O’Malley, & Bachman, 2000. 8th- and 10th-grade Table D-48; 12th-grade Table D-49. 1998 prepublication detail tables provided by Monitoring the Future Study staff.

 

Table SD 3.1.B Percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States who reported current and frequent smoking, by gender, race and Hispanic origin, and grade: 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999

  Current Smokinga Frequent Smokingb
  1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999
Total 28 31 35 36 35 13 14 16 17 17
    Male 28 30 35 38 35 13 14 16 18 18
    Female 27 31 34 35 35 12 14 16 16 16
Race and Hispanic origina  
White 31 34 38 40 39 15 16 20 20 20
    Male 30 32 37 40 38 15 16 18 20 21
    Female 32 35 40 40 39 16 16 21 20 19
Black 13 15 19 23 20 3 5 5 7 7
    Male 14 16 28 28 22 5 5 9 10 9
    Female 11 14 12 17 18 2 4 1 4 5
Hispanic 25 29 34 34 33 7 8 10 11 10
    Male 28 30 35 36 34 8 9 11 13 13
    Female 23 27 33 32 32 6 7 9 8 9
Grade  
Ninth 23 28 31 33 28 8 9 10 13 11
Tenth 25 28 33 35 35 11 13 13 15 15
Eleventh 32 31 36 37 36 16 15 19 19 19
Twelfth 30 35 38 40 43 16 18 21 19 23

a Current smoking is smoking on 1 or more of the previous 30 days.
b Frequent smoking is smoking on 20 or more of the previous 30 days.
c Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1990-1991 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Table 1, p. 60 (current smoking); Table 1, p. 50, and unpublished data results Q28 (frequent smoking); Kann et al., 1995, Table 12, p. 35; Kann et al., 1996, Table 12, p. 44; Kann et al., 1998, Table 12, p. 50.

 

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