Report shows decline in youth smoking, but work remains

Adolescent smoking rates increased through much of the 1990s, but a new report released today by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) shows there has been a promising decline over the past few years. Despite this recent progress, there remains a need for more research and for anti-smoking programs designed both to prevent young people from starting to smoke and to help them quit. The report reveals a particular need for research among certain racial/ethnic groups where smoking trends have not decreased or, in some cases, continued to increase.

Changing Adolescent Smoking Prevalence: Where It Is and Why was compiled by over 30 public health experts from throughout the United States. David M. Burns, M.D., of the University of California in San Diego, Calif., was the senior scientific editor of the monograph. The report is the 14th in NCI's Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph Series and offers the first major update of adolescent smoking behavior since 1994.

The authors of the monograph examine trends in the percentage of young people who smoke, including data showing that initiation rates have declined over time for males at all ages. However, there was little evidence of a decline in initiation for females under 16 years old, and initiation rates increased for females 16 years and older.

The youth smoking rates overall remain relatively high. The latest figures reported in the monograph are from the 2000 Monitoring the Future study, which showed that almost 32 percent of 12th-graders are current smokers (defined as having smoked within the past 30 days). The highest rate of current smoking for 12th-graders in the 1990s occurred in 1997, with almost 37 percent reported as current smokers.

According to Healthy People 2010, the government's comprehensive set of health objectives for the nation, the goal is to reduce the percent of current adolescent smokers to 16 percent by the year 2010. "Much work an

Contact: NCI Press Office
NIH/National Cancer Institute

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