Fewer teens becoming new cigarette smokers

A government study finds the number of kids under 18 lighting up for the first time at the lowest level in decades.

By Bruce Kennedy Jul 15, 2013 7:18AM

Teenager lighting a cigarette (© Diverse Images/UIG/Getty Images)The culture and industry of smoking seem to have their own peculiar cycles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly one out of every five deaths in the U.S., including the more than 10% as the result of secondhand smoke exposure.

Between 2000 and 2004, cigarette smoking cost the U.S. more than $193 billion in health care expenses and lost productivity.

And for decades, as older smokers die off, young new smokers have taken their place. Every day close to 4,000 American kids under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette -- and nearly 1,000 of them become brand-new, daily cigarette smokers.

But that cycle may be breaking. A new report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics said the percentage of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily last year was at its lowest level in the survey's history.

According to the report, 2% of 8th-graders, 5% of 10th-grade students and 9% of high school seniors said they smoked daily in 2012. Compare that data to the survey's peak smoking years in the mid-1990s, when those numbers were 10%, 18% and 25%, respectively.

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke also went down. In examining so-called environmental smoke levels, the study noted the percentage of kids ages 4 to 11 with detectable levels of cotinine, a breakdown product of nicotine, in their blood fell from 88% in 1988-1994 to 42% in 2009-2010.

A variety of factors are in play when it comes to the decline in smoking among teens: the rising cost of cigarettes and the economic downturn, lower birth rates, a decline in overall national population growth and better education about the long-term health hazards of tobacco use.

Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said tobacco taxes and new regulations limiting where people can smoke have also helped bring down the number of young smokers. But he told the Los Angeles Times anti-smoking campaigns have shown signs of losing their momentum among teens in recent years.

Said McGoldrick: "We need to invest in more of what has worked in the past to accelerate these declines."

More on moneyNOW

Jul 15, 2013 10:36AM
For the kind of money they charge for cigarettes,  the kids would rather smoke pot.
Jul 15, 2013 10:51AM
they're too busy killing off brain cells with binge drinking and misuse of pharmaceutical drugs.
Jul 15, 2013 11:03AM
Jul 15, 2013 11:06AM


We continuously vilify the evils of tobacco, rightfully so, but we never seem to hear about the bigger danger in our society.


The CDC reports that cigarette smoking costs more than $193 billion (i.e., $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures) annually.

At the same time the CDC reports excessive alcohol consumption cost the U.S. $224 billion annually.

It seems the alcohol lobby is better funded than the tobacco lobby.


Jul 15, 2013 11:07AM
you need special permits to purchase some of the chemicals found in the toxic waste soup of chemicals found in cancer sticks and you're not allowed to buy other chemicals found in coffin nails in certain quantities. there is 0 benefit from smoking anything except for the state and government where they rake in trillions each year on your addiction. if I allowed you to smoke cyanide, I'd be in jail but its ok for the government and state to sell it to you. do you know that it is against the law to harm yourself in every state? why is it that this crap is allowed to be sold in this country? because money is being made off the tobacco, the medications, the hospitals etc.. we need to sue every state and the government for killing our people while making a profit from the toxic waste they allow to be sold. make the government and states open free rehab facilities with the blood money they made from this crap to get off this no good addictive toxic waste. I see people writing, "unfair taxes etc...". what part of toxic waste, cancer, death, no benefits don't you understand? looking for excuses as to why people are smoking less. how about that the population has decreased because people are dying smoking this junk.
Jul 15, 2013 11:45AM

Less kids are smoking cigarette. Smoking  pot is more fun than cigarettes, and with liberal groups pushing for more legalization of marihuana , those numbers will go high.

Jul 15, 2013 10:51AM
I am sure there is a hell of a powerful tobacco lobby in Washington that keeps any ban on tobacco sales in the US from ever happening in at least my lifetime. I wish they could just stop all lobbying in Washington--maybe that would help. But then again--they would just find some other way to influence elected politicians. What a tragic mess !!!
Jul 15, 2013 12:01PM

Moms and dads cut off allowances to the kiddies during the down turn so the kids have turned to attacking the parent's stash.  What are those stats now?

Jul 15, 2013 10:28AM
Well how about that. After decades of anti-smoking messages, raising taxes on cigarettes, & doing everything possible to ostracize smokers from "normal" society; the government is actually SUPRISED that one of their programs is working. 
Jul 15, 2013 3:05PM
Jul 15, 2013 11:57AM
The cost of cigarettes alone should be keeping everyone from smoking, not just kids.   I saw some on sale for over 4.00.  ridiculous.   But I hope the trend continues.  I grew up with smoking parents, social smoked for about ten years (never really got hooked on it), had a grandmother who died from lung cancer thru smoking.  It's an expensive, incredibly environmentally unfriendly, unhealthy and just plain nasty habit and I don't understand why people even bother to start anymore.  
Jul 15, 2013 11:27AM

I think more kids are realizing that it is gross, not cool. Also, most kids nowadays are more comfortable being themselves instead of what everyone expects them to be which I think makes them less likely to give into peer pressure.

Yes, drinking is still a problem, but it does not affect me as much because I usually do not go out during the time the drunkards are out. People still seem to think it is ok to smoke in or close to a bus stop though so that affects me every day. When I was pregnant, the father smoked and it affected the placenta. His drinking did not affect me or her whatsoever so I think this is why people fight harder against smoking than drinking.

Jul 15, 2013 11:11AM
I have four kids ranging from 14 to 26, None smoke. One did for a while but she quit a few years ago. My wife and I both did when we met but when she became prego with the first one we both simply quit.
Jul 15, 2013 11:05AM
Most kids that smoking are waiting until they are out of secondary school. They get around new friends from college and other places just after work who smoke. If you have friends that smoke then you are more likely to start smoking when you are around them. Also teens are smoking cigarettes. They are smoking cigars with filters. You can get a pack of these for a little more than a dollar. They come in all different flavors from wild cherry to grape to blueberry. In some places, this one pack of twenty cost about $1.29. They have all kinds of names and majority are imported from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries east of India.
Jul 15, 2013 2:31PM

I say it's because kids now are too lazy to get off their butts and get a job to afford cigarettes!  Same as for why they're doing prescription drugs now instead of booze and weed - they'd rather steal prescriptions from their parents than work and pay for their high....!

Jul 16, 2013 12:45PM
OMG The governments will have to find something else to tax to pay for their fat pensions and other benefits.
Jul 15, 2013 9:18PM
Lower birth rates, and a decline in overall national population cannot be used as factors for a lower number of new smokers, because you're already giving the new stats in percentages over the number of current students (2% of 8th graders, 5% of 10th-grade students, and 9% of High School Seniors). 
Nov 19, 2013 10:41AM
why not just eliminate cigarettes  all together , we have the nicotine patch , nicotine gum , welbutrine and that so call smokeless cig thingie. and all of them work .remove the cigarettes from the shelf and replace them .in time it will be the way ... and even if they go on the black market we will still have less new smokers , simply because it will not be worth the hassle. maybe
Nov 19, 2013 10:22AM
so i can join the military and die for this country but i cant get a pack of smokes in new york f^%#ing democrat libtards
Nov 19, 2013 7:35AM

This is an Action Alert to all stockholders of the tobacco industry.  We have just got to dupe more children into becoming addicted to nicotine to replace the 400,000+ people who die each year of smoking-related illnesses, in order to maintain our profit line.

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