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Youth & Tobacco Facts

  • Approximately 3 million youth under the age of 18 years were smokers in 2007. (1)

  • Each day 3,600 adolescents aged 12-18 years try their first cigarette, and 1,100 additional adolescents become regular smokers. (1) 

  • A study of adolescent smokers reported that 21% showed signs of dependence after 3 months of smoking initiation, and 36% showed signs of dependence after 12 months. (2)

  • The majority of adolescent smokers want to quit. (3)

  • Among the 20% of U.S. high school students who reported current smoking in 2007, almost 50% had tried to quit within the past 12 months. (4)

  • Youth quit attempts are rarely planned, and are typically unassisted and unsuccessful; as an assisted method, tobacco cessation programs have been shown to almost double the likelihood that a young smoker will succeed in quitting. (5,6)

  • Seventy-seven percent of 10th graders and 57% of 8th graders say it would be easy for them to obtain cigarettes. (7)

  • Higher state tobacco control expenditures, higher cigarette prices, tougher restrictions on youth access to tobacco, and the enforcement of purchase, use and possession laws have all been shown to have a significant effect on reducing youth smoking rates. (8)

  • Teens who reside in strict non-smoking homes are less likely to smoke than teens who live in homes where smoking is permitted. (9)

  • Youth are more likely to quit, if a parent successfully quit smoking. (10)

  • Based on current smoking rates, more than 6 million youth alive today will eventually die from smoking related disease. (11)    


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Rockville, Md: Office of Applied Studies; 2008. NSDUH series H-34; DHHS publication No. 08-4343.

  2. Kandel DB, Hu M, Griesler PC, Schaffran C. On the development of nicotine dependence in adolescence. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007;91(1):26-39.                      

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance - United States, 2005. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2006;55(SS05):1-108.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth risk behavior surveillance – United States, 2007. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2008;57(SS04):1-131. 

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of cessation methods among smokers aged 16-24 years - United States, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(50):1351-1354.

  6. Sussman S, Sun P, Dent CW. A meta-analysis of teen cigarette smoking cessation. Health Psychol. 2006;25:549-557.

  7. Johnston LD, O'Malley PM, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use, Overview of key findings, 2008. Bethesda, Md: National Institute on Drug Abuse; 2009. NIH publication No. 09-7401.

  8. Tauras J, Chaloupka FJ, Farrelly MC, Giovino GA, Wakefield M, Johnston LD, O'Malley PM, Kloska DD, Pechacek TF. State tobacco control spending and youth smoking. Am J Public Health. 2005;95(2):338-344.

  9. Powell LM, Chaloupka FJ. Parents, public policy, and youth smoking. J Policy Anal Manage. 2005;24(1):93-112.

  10. Farkas AJ, Distefan JM, Choi WS, Gilpin EA, Pierce JP. Does parental smoking cessation discourage adolescent smoking? Prev Med. 1999;28:213-218.

  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Programs for Tobacco Control Data Highlights, 2006. Atlanta, Ga: US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2006.


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The Helping Young Smokers Quit National Program Office has closed. Helping Young Smokers Quit was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 2001 through 2010. Program direction was provided by the Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago. The contents of this Web site are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCI, CDC or RWJF. © 2010.