Aug. 18 1999
Washington, DC - Today’s release of this year’s National Household Survey on Drug Abuse contains vital information on cigarette smoking, some of it hopeful, but much of it distressing. Although overall smoking has declined in the last year, the level of smoking among 12-17 year olds is virtually unchanged and disturbingly high. Even more alarming is the steady increase in the smoking rate for young adults, ages 18-25, which has risen every year since 1995. The report indicates that 41.6 percent of young adults were current smokers in 1998.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS finds ample reason to be concerned by these trends. The tobacco companies have openly stated their intention to increase the numbers of young adult smokers and they are obviously finding a receptive new customer base. Big tobacco is spending millions of dollars on bar promotions, music tours, contests and other promotions to hook young adults on tobacco. Evidently, their efforts are bearing fruit.
This is alarming because the 18-25 age group in the past has been less susceptible to tobacco initiation than younger teens. That appears to be changing.
This year’s Survey results coincide with a study released last year by the Harvard School of Public Health showing a growing number of college students are becoming smokers while in college. The Harvard study also showed that large numbers of kids who started smoking as teenagers were carrying their habit with them into adulthood.
The CAMPAIGN sees these Survey results as an indication that we’re currently losing the battle against the devastating results of tobacco use. More than 3,000 kids start smoking every day. If current trends continue, five million American kids alive today will die prematurely of tobacco-caused disease. We have to work much harder to convince parents, legislators and kids that smoking kills, and that we all pay a staggering price for our inability to deal with the toll that tobacco takes on America’s families.