Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 3.1 Cigarette smoking

04/01/1997

Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in five deaths are caused by tobacco use.15 Youthful smoking can have severe, lifelong consequences because a large proportion of those who initiate smoking in adolescence will continue to smoke as adults.16 In addition, youths who smoke are also more likely to use illicit drugs and to drink more heavily than their peers who do not smoke.17

Data from two in-school national surveys, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance and The Monitoring the Future Survey, indicate that smoking among youth has increased in recent years.

  • Daily smoking among 12th grade students had decreased sharply in the late 1970s, but has begun to increase again in recent years, as reflected by the Monitoring the Future Study. Between 1992 and 1996, the percentage of 12th graders who reported smoking daily increased from 17.2 percent to 22.2 percent (see Figure SD 3.1).
  • Data for 8th and 10th grade students, available from 1991 through 1996, also show recent increases in the percentage of students who reported smoking daily, from 7.2 percent to 10.4 percent among 8th grade students and from 12.6 percent to 18.3 percent among 10th grade students (see Table SD 3.1.A).
  • Increases in the prevalence of current smoking among youths are also reflected in the results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Current smoking means 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 1996, the percentage of students who report daily smoking was 10.4 percent among 8th graders, 18.3 percent among 10th graders, and 22.2 percent among 12th grade students (see Figure SD 3.1).

Differences by Race.18 White students consistently have the highest rates of smoking, while black students consistently have the lowest (see Table SD 3.1.B). The prevalence of current19 smoking among white students is about twice that of black students. White students are twice as likely as Hispanic students and four times as likely as black students to be frequent20 smokers.

Differences by Gender. 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 9-12, black males were significantly more likely than black females in 1995 to report current smoking. This disparity became apparent only in 1995, when current and frequent smoking rates for black males increased over the previous year, while the comparable rates among black females had declined the only group for whom a decline is seen (see Table SD 3.1.B).

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

Figure SD 3.1  
Percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students Who Report Smoking Cigarettes Daily Over the Previous 30 Days: 1975-1996 

SD3_1.GIF

Source: Johnston, L.D., OMalley, P.M. and Bachman, J.G. National Survey Results on Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1995. Rockville, Maryland: National Institute of Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH Pub. No. 97-4139, 1997. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. 1996 data from: The Monitoring the Future Study, The University of Michigan. Cigarette smoking continues to rise among American teenagers in 1996. Press release of December 19, 1996.
 
 

Table SD 3.1.A 
Cigarette Smoking: Percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students Who Report Smoking Cigarettes Daily Over the Previous Thirty Days, by Gender: Selected Years, 1975-1996

                         
     
1975
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8th Grade
    Total
 
 
 
 
7.2
7
8.3
8.8
9.3
10.4
    Male
 
 
 
 
8.1
6.9
8.8
9.5
9.2
 
    Female
 
 
 
 
6.2
7.2
7.8
8
9.2
 
                         
10th Grade
    Total
 
 
 
 
12.6
12.3
14.2
14.6
16.3
18.3
    Male
 
 
 
 
12.4
12.1
13.8
15.2
16.3
 
    Female
 
 
 
 
12.5
12.4
14.3
13.7
16.1
 
                         
12th Grade
    Total
26.9
21.3
19.5
19.1
18.5
17.2
19
19.4
21.6
22.2
    Male
26.9
18.5
17.8
18.6
18.8
17.2
19.4
20.4
21.7
 
    Female
26.4
23.5
20.6
19.3
17.9
16.7
18.2
18.1
20.8
 
                         
Source: Johnston, L.D., O'Malley, P.M., Bachman, J.G. "National Survey Results on Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1995." Rockville, Maryland: National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH Pub. No. 97-4139, 1997. Institute for Social Research, the University of Michigan. Tables D-31 and D-32. 1996 data from: The Monitoring the Future Study, The University of Michigan. "Cigarette smoking continues to rise among American teenagers in 1996." Press release of December 19, 1996.

 

Table 3.1.B 
Cigarette Smoking: Percentage of Students in Grades 9-12 Who Report Current Smoking and Frequent Smoking: 1991, 1993, and 1995

               
   
Current Smokinga
Frequent Smokingb
   
 
 
   
1991
1993
1995
1991
1993
1995
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
               
Total
28
31
35
13
14
16
  Male
28
30
35
13
14
16
  Female
27
31
34
12
14
16
               
White non-Hispanic
31
34
38
15
16
20
  Male
30
32
37
15
16
18
  Female
32
35
40
16
16
21
               
Black non-Hispanic
13
15
19
3
5
5
  Male
14
16
28
5
5
9
  Female
11
14
12
2
4
1
               
Hispanic
25
29
34
7
8
10
  Male
28
30
35
8
9
11
  Female
23
27
33
6
7
9
               
Grade
  9th
23
28
31
8
9
10
  10th
25
28
33
11
13
13
  11th
32
31
36
16
15
19
  12th
31
35
38
16
18
21
               
Note: aCurrent smoking is smoking on one or more of the previous 30 days.  
bFrequent smoking is smoking on 20 or more of the previous 30 days.  

Sources: Data for 1991 from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People, A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Public Health Service, 1994. Data from 1993 from "Youth Risk Behavior  
SurveillanceUnited States 199 SS-4, 1996.

 

15 Centers for Disease Control. Cigarette Smoking-Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life LostUnited States, 1990. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1993; 42:645-9.

16 The Monitoring the Future Study, The University of Michigan. "Cigarette Smoking among American teens rises again in 1995." Press Release of December 15, 1995.

17 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Preliminary Estimates From the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Rockville, Maryland: Public Health Service, 1996." 1995 results indicate that youths age 12-17 who smoked were about 8 times as likely to use illicit drugs and 11 times as likely to drink heavily as nonsmoking youths.

18 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.

19 Current smoking is smoking on one or more of the previous 30 days.

20 Frequent smoking is smoking on 20 or more of the previous 30 days.
 
 

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