CDC: Tobacco use among teens on slow decline

ATLANTA — Tobacco use among American middle school and high school students showed a slow decline from 2000 to 2011, according to a report released last week by 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 noticeably has slowed. CDC’s report found that in 2011 nearly 30% of high school males and 18% of high school females used some form of tobacco. More than 8% of middle school males and nearly 6% of middle school females used some form of tobacco in 2011.

Though tobacco use continued an 11-year downward trend, tobacco use remains high among high school students, the CDC said. Nearly 25% of high school males and more than 17% of high school females used some form of smoked tobacco product — cigarettes, cigars — in 2011, while smokeless tobacco use among high school males (12.9%) was eight times higher than among high school females (1.6%).

“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,” CDC director Thomas Frieden said. “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.”

The study, “Current Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011,” published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reported no significant declines in the use of any tobacco product among middle school students from 2009 to 2011. However, cigarette use declined from 19.2% in 2009 to 15.8% among Hispanic high school students.

For an online version of the MMWR report, click here.


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