September 17, 2014

Tobacco Use Among Middle School and High School Students is Declining

Parents, keep talking to your kids about the dangers of tobacco use! Studies have shown that tobacco use among middle school students and high school students in on the decline; however, as many as 23% are still using. In fact, the majority of adults who smoke reported starting before the age of 18. For these reasons, the efforts to thwart tobacco use among this age group need to be continually focused on.

The most dramatic finding is a decrease in overall tobacco use from 15% in 2000 to 7% in 2011 among middle school students and from 34% to 23% among high school students. However, it should also be noted that between 2009 and 2011, high school blacks reported increases in many types of tobacco use — from 7% to 11%. Males who reported using cigars and smokeless tobacco were two to eight times that of their female counterparts.

The study did not address frequency of use or quantity, so it’s very hard to determine which students in the 23% of current users, just started their tobacco use and those who smoke regularly. Continued education is the key to keeping tobacco use on the decline, as is the support of legal restrictions and public health messages.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Current tobacco use among middle and high school students – United States, 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2012 Aug 10; 61:581. Published in Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine September 5, 2012

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