Significant decreases in underage cigarette smoking seen in nearly every state from 2003 to 2013
Monday, May 18, 2015
A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that from 2003 to 2013 levels of past month (current) underage cigarette smoking among those aged 12 to 17 have dropped significantly in 49 out of 50 states and in the District of Columbia.
The only state that did not experience a statistically significant decline was Utah which has traditionally has one of the lowest levels of underage cigarette smoking in the nation. During this period Utah experienced a slight decline from about 6.6 percent in 2003 to 5.4 percent in 2013.
Overall the national level of current underage cigarette smoking dropped sharply from about 12.6 percent in 2003 to less than 6.1 percent in 2013. There still remain significant differences in the level of underage cigarette smoking occurring among the states – ranging from 4.3 percent in California to 9.5 percent in Kentucky.
“The decline in underage cigarette smoking during this period is encouraging and shows that spreading the word to young people about the risks from smoking can make an enormous positive difference,” said Fran Harding the director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. “Unfortunately, far too many young people still use tobacco products. According to the Surgeon General if current trends continue, 5.6 million American youth currently under age 18 will die prematurely during adulthood because of their smoking. This is why every segment of the community must reach out to young people about the importance of not smoking, or quitting smoking if they have started.”
Studies have shown that adolescents’ perception of risk regarding smoking can influence their behavior toward it. The more likely an adolescent is to associate cigarette smoking with a great health risk, the less likely the adolescent is to smoke cigarettes.
The report finds that nationally there was an increase in adolescent perception of great risk from smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day from 63.7 percent in 2003 to 65 percent in 2013. The rates of adolescent perception of great risk from smoking cigarettes varied among the states – from a low of 59.1 percent in Alaska to a high of 70.4 percent in Florida.
However, increases in e-cigarette and hookah use are offsetting declines in use of more traditional products such as cigarettes. A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that current e-cigarette use (use on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students.
Among middle school students, current e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014—an increase from approximately 120,000 to 450,000 students. The report also concludes that because the use of e-cigarettes and hookahs is on the rise among high and middle school students, it is critical that comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies for youth focus on all tobacco products, and not just cigarettes.
SAMHSA manages several grant programs that states can use to prevent underage tobacco use, including the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) and the Partnerships for Success grant program.
SAMHSA also administers the Synar program, a federal and state effort which helps states enforce their laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18. States also must conduct annual, random, unannounced inspections of over-the-counter tobacco outlets and vending machines to ensure compliance with the law. States must comply with the Synar Amendment in order to receive their full SABG funds. The most recent Synar report shows that 9.6 percent of inspected retail outlets illegally sold tobacco products to youth at any time in 2013. That number is significantly below the 20 percent target rate set by the program, and far lower than the highest reported state retailer violation rate of 72.7 percent when the Synar program was established 16 years ago.
The report, State Estimates of Adolescent Cigarette Use and Perceptions of Risk of Smoking, is available athttp://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_1964/ShortReport-1964.pdf and provides specific information about each of the states and the District of Columbia. The report is based on data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and annual survey of 67,500 Americans aged 12 and older.
For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.
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