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U.S. Youth Smoking Rates Fall to Record Lows

December 19, 2012


There’s great news in a new government survey released today: Youth smoking rates declined significantly in 2012, falling to record lows for all three grades surveyed – grades 8, 10 and 12.

This is the second year in a row that the Monitoring the Future survey has found a significant annual decline in youth smoking. It is especially encouraging that youth smoking is falling again following several years in which progress had nearly stalled.

The survey is released annually by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

Key findings include:

  • For all three grades combined, the percentage who said they smoked any cigarettes in the prior 30 days fell from 11.7 percent in 2011 to 10.6 percent in 2012.
  • From 2011 to 2012, smoking rates fell from 6.1 percent to 4.9 percent among 8th graders (a statistically significant decrease), from 11.8 percent to 10.8 percent among 10th graders, and from 18.7 percent to 17.1 percent among 12th graders. All three are record lows in the 38 years this survey has been conducted.
  • Since youth smoking peaked in the mid-1990s, smoking rates have fallen by about three-fourths among 8th graders, two-thirds among 10th graders and half among 12th graders.

This progress is a remarkable public health success story and will lead to a healthier future with fewer deaths, disease and medical costs caused by tobacco use, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death.

These results are also powerful evidence that we know how to win the fight against tobacco by implementing scientifically proven strategies. These include higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media campaigns, strong smoke-free laws, and effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing.

If elected officials at all levels aggressively implement these measures, today’s survey results show that it is within our reach to create a tobacco-free generation.

Read our full press statement.