Great Number Of Teen Cigarette Use Declined Over 30 Years

Cigarette Use


Cigarette use among adolescents in the United States has significantly decreased from 1991 to 2021, according to a recent study conducted by Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine and published in the Ochsner Journal. The findings of the study reveal a substantial decline in cigarette use across different categories.

Cigarette Use

The study found that the number of adolescents who have ever used cigarettes decreased from 70.1 percent in 1991 to 17.8 percent in 2021, which equates to a nearly fourfold decline. Additionally, occasional cigarette use decreased from 27.5 percent in 1991 to 3.8 percent in 2021, indicating a decline of more than seven times.

Furthermore, frequent cigarette use declined from 12.7 percent to 0.7 percent, a decline of over eighteen times. Daily cigarette use also saw a significant decrease from 9.8 percent in 1991 to 0.6 percent in 2021, representing a decrease of over sixteen times.


Findings Show Older Teens Have Higher Cigarette Use

Although all grades experienced a decline in cigarette use, 12th graders consistently reported the highest percentage of occasional smokers compared to other school grades in 2021. This finding suggests that while smoking has decreased among all age groups, older adolescents may still be more inclined to experiment with cigarettes compared to their younger counterparts.

Senior author Panagiota “Yiota” Kitsantas, a professor and chair for the Department of Population Health and Social Medicine at FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, emphasizes the significance of this decrease in cigarette use among U.S. adolescents over the past three decades. Kitsantas highlights the need for ongoing vigilance, research, and intervention to further decrease tobacco use and its associated harms.

Gender inequalities in cigarette use among adolescents have been present for many years; however, by 2021, the study found that discrepancies in smoking rates between genders had diminished. In terms of race and ethnicity, the decline in cigarette consumption was even more significant among Black and Asian adolescents. Rates among white and Hispanic/Latino youth remained higher but were still significantly lower than rates in 1997.

Co-author Charles H. Hennekens, the First Sir Richard Doll Professor of Medicine and senior academic advisor at FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, acknowledges the positive trends revealed by the study but also emphasizes the need for targeted interventions to address remaining clinical and public health challenges.

The study’s co-authors also include Maria Mejia, first author and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine; Robert S. Levine, professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and affiliate professor at FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine; and Adedamola Adele, a recent biomedical science graduate from FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine.

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Author: donna dong

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