U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Cigarette Smoking

In 2007, cigarette smoking among adolescents continued to decline, according to the annual Monitoring the Future Study. The largest decrease occurred among 8th graders, with the percentage of students who had smoked any cigarettes in the past 30 days falling from 8.7 to 7.1 percent since the previous year. Cigarette smoking in the past 30 days showed a smaller decline among 10th graders, dropping from 14.5 to 14.0 percent, while smoking among 12th graders remained steady at 21.6 percent.

The percent of teens smoking in the past month began a rapid increase in the early 1990s, with the rates among 8th and 10th graders reaching a peak in 1996 (at 21.0 and 30.4 percent, respectively), and the rate among 12th graders peaking in 1997 at 36.5 percent. These increases occurred in virtually every sociodemographic group: male and female, those planning on attending a four-year college and those without such plans, those living in all four regions of the country, those living in rural and urban areas, and those of different racial and ethnic groups. Since the mid-1990s, overall rates of smoking in the past month have dropped 66 percent among 8th graders, 54 percent among 10th graders, and 41 percent among 12th graders.

Despite this decline, certain subgroups of adolescents are still more likely than others to smoke. With regard to race and ethnicity, non-Hispanic White students are most likely to report smoking in the past month, followed by Hispanic students. Also, males are more likely than females to smoke, and adolescents without plans to attend a 4-year college program are more likely to smoke than their college-bound peers (data not shown).

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