CDC: Gradual Drop in Youth Tobacco Use Continues, But Significant Problem Areas Remain

August 9, 2012 Updated Aug 9, 2012 at 12:57 PM EDT

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CDC: Gradual Drop in Youth Tobacco Use Continues, But Significant Problem Areas Remain

August 9, 2012 Updated Aug 9, 2012 at 12:57 PM EDT

(CDC news release) Tobacco use among American middle school and high school students showed a slow decline from 2000 to 2011, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But when compared with other long-term studies, such as the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the steep rate of decline from 1997 to 2003 has slowed noticeably.

According to the CDC news release:

The report published today shows that in 2011 nearly 30 percent of high school males and 18 percent of high school females used some form of tobacco. More than 8 percent of middle school males and nearly 6 percent of middle school females used some form of tobacco in 2011.

The report indicates that though tobacco use continued an 11-year downward trend, tobacco use remains high among high school students. For example, among black high school students, cigar use increased significantly from 7.1 percent in 2009 to 11.7 percent in 2011. In 2011, cigar use among high school males (15.7 percent) was comparable to cigarette use (17.7 percent). Cigar use includes the use of cigarette-like cigars that can be packaged and smoked like typical cigarettes, but are taxed at a lower rate, making them more appealing and accessible to youth.  While they contain the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes, no cigars are subject to restrictions on flavorings and misleading descriptors such as “light” or “low tar,” according to the report.

Nearly 25 percent of high school males and more than 17 percent of high school females used some form of smoked tobacco product in 2011, while smokeless tobacco use among high school males (12.9 percent) was 8 times higher than among high school females (1.6 percent).

“An overall decline in tobacco use is good news, but although 4 out of 5 teens don't smoke, far too many kids start to smoke every day,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Most tobacco use begins and becomes established during adolescence. This report is further evidence that we need to do more to prevent our nation’s youth from establishing a deadly addiction to tobacco.”

Read the entire CDC news release HERE.