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

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Cigarette Smoking

Cigarette smoking among adolescents declined between 2007 and 2008, according to the annual Monitoring the Future study. The largest decrease occurred among students in 10th grade, with the percentage of students who had smoked any cigarettes in the past 30 days falling from 14.0 in 2007 to 12.3 percent in 2008. Cigarette smoking in the past 30 days also decreased among 12th grade students, falling from 21.6 to 20.4 percent, and among 8th grade students, falling from 7.1 to 6.8 percent.

The percent of teens reporting smoking in the past month began a rapid increase in the early 1990s, with the rates among 8th and 10th grade students reaching a peak in 1996 (at 21.0 and 30.4 percent, respectively), and the rate among 12th grade students peaking a year later at 36.5 percent. These increases occurred in virtually every sociodemographic group: male and female, those with and without plans for college attendance, those living in all four regions of the country, and those of different racial and ethnic groups. Since peaking in the mid-1990s, overall rates of smoking in the past month have dropped 68 percent among 8th grade students, 60 percent among 10th grade students, and 44 percent among 12th grade students.

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 four-year college program are more likely to smoke than their college-bound peers (data not shown).

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