Cigarette Smoking

Between 2005 and 2006, cigarette smoking declined slightly among 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders, according to the annual Monitoring the Future Study. The largest decrease in the percentage of students who had smoked at least once in the previous 30 days occurred among 12th-graders, from 23.2 percent in 2005 to 21.6 percent in 2006. Only 8.7 percent of 8th-graders and 14.5 percent of 10th-graders reported past-month cigarette use in 2006, compared to 9.3 and 14.9 percent, respectively, the year before. Since past-month use peaked among 8th- and 10th-graders in 1996, both groups have seen a substantial decline (58.6 and 52.3 percent, respectively). Among 12th-graders, the most recent peak occurred in 1997 (39 percent) but has seen a somewhat more modest decline of 40.8 percent. Factors that appear to have contributed to the decline include increases in perceived risk and personal disapproval of smoking, higher cigarette prices, and anti-smoking advertising campaigns.

The teen smoking rate increased substantially between 1991 and 1996. Increases occurred in virtually every sociodemographic group: male and female; those planning on attending college and not; those living in all four regions of the country; those living in rural and urban areas; and those of different races and ethnicities.

Since 1996, cigarette smoking among adolescents has declined across all demographic groups consistently, which is likely to have important long-term health consequences for this generation of adolescents. Despite this decline, certain subgroups were still more likely than others to smoke. Students who did not intend to graduate from a 4-year college program were more likely to smoke than those who did have a 4-year college plan (23.2 versus 7.1 percent). White adolescents were most likely to smoke cigarettes (9.3 percent), followed by Hispanic (8.8 percent) and Black adolescents (6.0 percent).

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