Tobacco Use by Kids and Teens

  • Roughly 3,000 children in the United States become addicted to tobacco every day. One million teens start smoking every year.
    (“Who Profits From Tobacco Sales to Children?” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1990)
  • Use of cigarettes among high school seniors increased in 1993 after several years of decline. This increase in smoking is one reason the health of this nation’s children is declining.
    (“1994 Child Health Report Card,” American Health Foundation, October 1994)
  • Although it’s illegal in all states to sell cigarettes to persons younger than 18, teens are able to buy cigarettes over the counter between 70 and 80 percent of the time.
    (“Reducing the Illegal Sale of Cigarettes to Minors,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1989)
  • 86 percent of Washington teens (ages 15 to 19) said it was easy for minors to buy tobacco products in their community. Only 12 percent thought it would be difficult.
    (Census Bureau’s 1992-93 Current Population Survey)
  • The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services estimates that three- fourths of the approximately 1 million tobacco outlets in the United States sell tobacco to minors, garnering over $1 billion in sales each year.
    (The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, Sept. 13, 1994)
  • In the U.S., merchants illegally sell to minors 947 million packs of cigarettes and 26 million containers of smokeless tobacco each year. These products are worth $1.26 billion and generate $221 million in tobacco industry profits.
    (“Who Profits From Tobacco Sales to Children?” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1990)
  • About 85 percent of the teens who buy cigarettes in the United States usually purchase Marlboro, Newport or Camel cigarettes – the nation’s most heavily marketed brands. That’s a far higher percentage than the overall adult market, where the three brands account for just 35 percent of all cigarette sales.
    (“Changes in the Cigarette Brand Preferences of Adolescent Smokers – U.S. 1989-1993,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Children who have used three “gateway drugs” – tobacco, alcohol and marijuana – are 266 times more likely to use cocaine than a child who has not used them. A child using only one of the “gateway drugs” is between three and four times more likely to use cocaine than a child who abstains.
    (Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, October 1994)
  • About half of all adolescent smokers have parents who smoke.
    (“Effect of Parental Smoking Classification on the Association Between Parental and Adolescent Smoking,” Addictive Behaviors, 1990)
  • A USA Today survey found that 93 percent of parents who smoke said that more should be done to educate children about the hazards of smoking. Fifty-two percent said they should never smoke in the presence of their children.
    (USA Today, Oct. 19, 1994)
  • In Washington state, one of every four high school seniors is addicted to tobacco.
    (Washington State Department of Health, 1992)
  • Both smokeless tobacco use and smoking are increasing among Washington state adolescents. In 1992, 9.5 percent of 10th graders and 10.8 percent of 12th graders regularly used chewing tobacco. Similarly, in 1992, 19.8 percent of 10th graders and 26.1 percent of 12th graders regularly smoked cigarettes.
    (Washington State Department of Health, 1992)
  • Many teens have gotten cancer of the mouth, cheek, gums, and throat from smokeless tobacco.
    (Journeyworks Publishing, 1996)
  • The rate of national teenage smoking has increased steadily since 1990.
    (American Cancer Society “Cancer Facts and Figures”, 1997)
  • In Washington State, students in grades 8, 10 and 12 are more likely to have ever smoked a cigarette than students nationally.
    (Journeyworks Publishing, 1996)
  • The rate of national teenage smoking has increased steadily since 1990.
    (Washington State DASAS Drug Abuse Trends Report, 1997)
  • There has been a 30% increase in smoking among eighth graders between 1991 and 1994.
    (University of Michigan, “Monitoring the Future” Project, 1995)
  • Five million children will die prematurely from diseases caused by smoking if the current upswing in youth smoking rates continue.
    (CDC Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, November, 1996)
  • One out of three young people (33 percent) who become regular smokers will die of a smoking related disease.
    (CDC Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, November, 1996)
  • Current smoking trends suggest a continued need for prevention efforts targeted at students in grades 8 through 12, but especially those in grade 8 or younger.
    (Washington State DASAS Drug Abuse Trends Report, 1997)
  • With the exception of African-American female students, the percentage of high school students who smoke frequently increased 3% to 5% from 1991 to 1995 for all racial and ethnic gender groups.
    (American Cancer Society, “Cancer Facts and Figures”, 1997)
  • Nationwide, 71% of high school students have tried cigarette smoking.
  • About one-third of high school students are current cigarette smokers, ie: smoked at least one cigarette in the past 30 days.
  • Sixteen percent of high school students are frequent smokers, an increase from 14% in the 1993 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
  • White students (20%) are more likely than African-American (5%) or Hipanic (10%) students who smoke frequently.
    (1995 Youth Risk Behavior Survey)
  • Smoking is associated with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Many teens use tobacco products as a way to “self medicate.”
    (American Journal of Public Health, 1996)