Although many parents don’t think of cigarettes or tobacco products as a “drug” in the traditional sense, it can actually be one of the more destructive substance abuse habits out there, ravaging your teen’s wallet and their health.

Statistics on the number of teens who smoke

  1. In 2016, 2.6% of 8th graders, 4.9% of 10th graders and 10.5% of 12th graders smoked traditional cigarettes. (Johnston et al., 2017)

  1. . Eight percent of 12th graders had smoked small cigars on 2 or more occasions within the past year, yet only 1% had done so on 20 or more occasions. (ibid)

  1. In 2007, 22.1% of 8th graders, 34.6% of 10th graders, and 46.2% of 12th graders had tried cigarettes at least once. (Chaker, 2018)

  1. On the bright side, traditional cigarettes are getting harder for teens to obtain. In 2016 46% of 8th graders and 63% of 10th graders said cigarettes would be very easy or fairly easy to get, down form 78% and 91% respectively in 1995. (Johnston et a1., 2017)

Other tobacco use by teens

  1. Smokeless tobacco (aka snuff or chew) is much more common among boys than girls. In 2016, 3.6% of 8th grade boys, 5.8% of 10th grade boys, and 11.9% of 12th grade boys had used such products in the past 30 days, and 1.2%, 1.7%, and 5.1%, respectively, used them daily. For girls, these rates were 1.4%, 1.3%, and 1.5% for the past 30 days, and 0.1%, 0.2%, and 0.3% for daily use. (Johnston et al., 2017)

  1. Snus (rhymes with goose), a new type of smokeless tobacco product, was used by 2.2% of 8th graders, 3% of 10th graders, and 5.8% of 12th graders in 2016. (ibid)

  1. Dissolvable tobacco products, which melt in the mouth like candy, were used by 0.7% of 8th graders, 0.9% of 10th graders, and 1.1% of 12th graders in 2016. (ibid)

Trends in teen smoking

  1. Smoking among 12th graders with the past 30 days peaked in 1976 at 39%. It then declined between 1976 and 1981 to 28%, remaining relatively stable, before jumping again after 1991. They then declined in all grades between the mid-1990s and 2004. Rates of decline then again started to slow in 2002. By 2016, smoking initiation by 8th graders had fallen to 10%, compared to 49% in 1996. (Johnston et a1., 2017)

  1. Only 19.5% of high school students reported current tobacco use in 2009, according to the American Heart Association, down from 36.4% in 1997. (Science News, April 9, 2011, p. 4)