Cigarette, chewing tobacco use consistently dropping among teens, study finds

The use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco among teens has declined, according to a new analysis. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco among teens has declined, according to a new analysis. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco among adolescents and teens in the United States has declined by nearly one-fifth annually over the past decade, according to an analysis published Wednesday by JAMA Network Open.

The numbers of eighth-graders who report daily cigarette smoking dropped by as much as 15% each year between 2011 and 2019 and fell by as much as 18% annually among 12th-graders from 2013 to 2019, the data showed.


Meanwhile, daily smokeless tobacco use among eighth-graders declined by about 3% each year between 1999 and 2019, and as much as 16% each year between 2014 and 2019 for 12th-graders, the researchers said.

"Cigarette smoking, the most harmful form of tobacco consumption, has decreased considerably in recent years, reaching historically low levels," analysis co-author Rafael Meza told UPI.

"This is despite the fact that e-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among youth," said Meza, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan.

Recent research has suggested that as many as one in three high school students has used e-cigarettes or vaping devices, and that use of these products among young people has increased significantly in recent years.


The findings of the JAMA Network Open study are based on an analysis of data from the Monitoring the Future survey, a decades-long project led by researchers at the University of Michigan designed to assess drug, alcohol and tobacco use among teens.

Meza and his colleagues evaluated trends in tobacco use -- both with cigarettes and smokeless, or chewing, tobacco -- among nearly 1.4 million eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders between 1991 and 2019.

While cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use increased among adolescents and teens throughout the 1990s, the numbers began to decline in the early 2000s, the data showed.

These decreases started to become more pronounced during the 2010s, with declines in usage rates more than doubling in some age groups, the researchers said.

"We should celebrate the decrease in adolescent smoking, which is a big success of public health and tobacco control, while remaining vigilant and continuing efforts to prevent adolescents from becoming addicted to nicotine," Meza said.

In particular, "parents need to be vigilant about their kids nicotine consumption, which now is available in many more forms, and support their kids so they can avoid regular use of any form of nicotine or tobacco products," he said.


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