Youth Tobacco Use

Last Updated:

On This Page:

In 2015, 10.8% of high school students were cigarette users.

Summary graph for Youth Tobacco Use, Click to see detailed view of graph

See Graph Details

Introduction

Tobacco use is initiated and established primarily during adolescence: nearly 90 percent of adult smokers in the United States began smoking by age 18, and 98 percent first smoked by age 26. Each day in the United States, more than 3,800 youth 18 years of age or younger smoke their first cigarette, and more than 1,000 become daily cigarette smokers.

Teen smoking rates reached a peak in 1996 and have been declining since then, but previously observed steep rates of decline have stalled in recent years. In addition, a substantial proportion of youth use other tobacco products, including cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipes, hookahs, and electronic cigarettes. In fact, between 2011 and 2012 there were significant increases in the use of nonconventional tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and hookahs. Monitoring and preventing youth tobacco use needs to incorporate other products, including new and emerging products.

There are many factors associated with youth tobacco use, including social influences and physical environment, and cognitive, affective, biological, and genetic factors. Because of nicotine dependence and social factors, initiation of smoking during adolescence is closely associated with persistent smoking in adulthood and with the many adverse health effects associated with chronic smoking. It is therefore critical to prevent smoking very early.

Understanding trends in the prevalence of tobacco use among youth enables policy makers to target prevention resources more effectively. To decrease tobacco use and susceptibility to use among youth, restrictions on advertising, promotion, and availability of tobacco products to youth should be combined with full implementation of evidence-based, community-wide, comprehensive tobacco control policies such as product taxes and smoke-free air laws.

Measure

The percentage of high school students (grades 9–12) who reported use of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey.

Healthy People 2020 Target

  • Reduce to 21 percent the proportion of adolescents in grades 9–12 who used tobacco products in the past 30 days.
  • Reduce to 16 percent the proportion of adolescents in grades 9–12 who smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days.
  • Reduce to 6.9 percent the proportion of adolescents in grades 9–12 who used smokeless (chewing tobacco or snuff) tobacco in the past 30 days.
  • Reduce to 8 percent the proportion of adolescents in grades 9–12 who smoked cigars in the past 30 days.

Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 1999–2015.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

By Type of Tobacco Product

Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco in the last month by type of tobacco product, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco in the last month by type of tobacco product, 1999-2015 Cigarettes, Cigars and Smokeless TobaccoClick to see the detailed trend graph for Cigarettes, Cigars and Smokeless Tobacco 18.6 (16.5 - 20.6)
CigarettesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Cigarettes 10.8 (9.3 - 12.3)
Smokeless tobaccoClick to see the detailed trend graph for Smokeless tobacco 7.3 (6.1 - 8.5)
CigarsClick to see the detailed trend graph for Cigars 10.3 (9.0 - 11.7)
E-cigarettes 24.1 (22.1 - 26.2)

Cigarettes, Cigars and Smokeless Tobacco

By Sex
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who were current users of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco by sex, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who were current users of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco by sex, 1999-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 18.6 (16.5 - 20.6)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 23.3 (21.0 - 25.7)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 13.4 (11.1 - 15.8)
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who were current users of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who were current users of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 18.6 (16.5 - 20.6)
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 21.2 (17.7 - 24.6)
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 14.9 (12.0 - 17.8)
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 14.2 (11.7 - 16.7)

Cigarettes

By Sex
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigarettes in the past month by sex, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigarettes in the past month by sex, 1999-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 10.8 (9.3 - 12.3)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 11.8 (10.4 - 13.2)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 9.8 (8.0 - 11.5)
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigarettes in the past month by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigarettes in the past month by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 10.8 (9.3 - 12.3)
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 12.4 (9.9 - 14.9)
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 6.5 (4.6 - 8.4)
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 9.2 (7.9 - 10.6)

Smokeless Tobacco

By Sex
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used smokeless tobacco in the past month by sex, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used smokeless tobacco in the past month by sex, 1999-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 7.3 (6.1 - 8.5)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 11.8 (9.9 - 13.8)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 2.3 (1.6 - 3.0)
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used smokeless tobacco in the past month by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used smokeless tobacco in the past month by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 7.3 (6.1 - 8.5)
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 9.3 (7.4 - 11.1)
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 3.7 (2.2 - 5.1)
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 4.5 (3.1 - 5.9)

Cigars

By Sex
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigars in the past month by sex, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigars in the past month by sex, 1999-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 10.3 (9.0 - 11.7)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 14.0 (12.3 - 15.7)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 6.3 (5.0 - 7.7)
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigars in the past month by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who smoked cigars in the past month by race/ethnicity, 1999-2015 All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 10.3 (9.0 - 11.7)
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 10.4 (8.6 - 12.3)
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 11.0 (8.2 - 13.9)
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 9.5 (7.6 - 11.4)

E-cigarettes

By Sex
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used electronic cigarettes in the past month by sex, 2015
Overview graph Sex Used E-cigarette in last month
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used electronic cigarettes in the past month by sex Both Sexes 24.1 (22.1 - 26.2)
Male 22.6 (20.6 - 24.9)
Female 25.6 (23.0 - 28.4)
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used electronic cigarettes in the past month by race/ethnicity, 2015
Overview graph Race Used E-cigarette in last month
Percent of adolescents Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who used electronic cigarettes in the past month by race/ethnicity All Races 24.1 (22.1 - 26.2)
Non-Hispanic White 25.2 (22.2 - 28.5)
Non-Hispanic Black 18.0 (14.9 - 21.7)
Hispanic 26.3 (23.6 - 29.1)

Additional Information on Youth Tobacco Use

For smokers

For the public

For health professionals

Scientific reports

Statistics

Year Range

1999-2015

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2011-2015

Summary Tables

Smoking

Recent Summary Trend

Falling

Desired Direction

Falling