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Cigarette Smoking

Narrative

In 2009, cigarette smoking among adolescents reached the lowest levels recorded in the past 34 years, according to the annual Monitoring the Future study. Between 2009 and 2010, there was a non-significant increase in the overall percentage of high school students to have smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days from 12.7 percent in 2009 to 12.8 percent in 2010. This increase in current cigarette use occurred among both 8th and 10th graders, from 6.5 percent to 7.1 percent and 13.1 percent to 13.6 percent, respectively. During this same period a small decline was observed among 12th graders (20.1 percent to 19.2 percent).1

The percent of teens who report 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 (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 66 percent among 8th grade students, 55 percent among 10th grade students, and 47 percent among 12th grade students.

Despite a population-wide decline, certain subgroups of adolescents were still more likely than others to smoke. In 2009-2010, non-Hispanic White students were the most likely to report smoking in the past month, followed by Hispanic students. Also, males were 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.

1 Johnston, LD, O’Malley, PM, Bachman, JG, & Schulenberg, JE. (December 14, 2010). “Smoking stops declining and shows signs of increasing among younger teens.” University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI. Available at: Monitoring the Future External Web Site Policy. Accessed July 2011.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

cigarette use by grade graph

This image is described in the Data section.

cigarette use by grade and race graph

Data

Cigarette Use Among Students in the Past 30 Days, by Grade Level, 1991-2010

Percent of Students:

  • In 12th grade decreased from about 28 percent in 1991 to 19.2 percent in 2010
  • In 10th grade decreased from about 20 percent in 1991 to 13.6 percent in 2010
  • In 8th grade decreased from about 14 percent in 1991 to 7.1 percent in 2011

Source: Johnston, LD, O’Malley, PM, Bachman, JG, & Schulenberg, JE. (December 14, 2010). Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2010. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Available at: Monitoring the Future External Web Site Policy. Accessed July 2011.

Cigarette Use Among Students in the Past 30 Days, by Grade Level and Race/Ethnicity, 2009-2010*
Age Percent of Students
8th Grade 10th Grade 12th Grade
*To derive percentages for each racial subgroup, data for 2009 and 2010 have been combined to increase subgroup sample sizes and thus provide more stable estimates.
Source: Johnston, LD, O’Malley, PM, Bachman, JG, & Schulenberg, JE. (December 14, 2010). “Smoking stops declining and shows signs of increasing among younger teens.” University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI. Available at: Monitoring the Future External Web Site Policy. Accessed July 2011.
8th Grade 7.9 4.3 6.7
10th Grade 14.7 6.7 12.2
12th Grade 22.9 10.1 15.0

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