1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Preliminary Results

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An estimated 62 million Americans were current smokers in 1996. This represents a smoking rate of 29 percent for the population age 12 and older. There was no change between 1995 and 1996 overall.

Current smokers were more likely to be heavy drinkers and illicit drug users. Among smokers, the rate of heavy alcohol use (five or more drinks on five or more days in the past month) was 12.8 percent and the rate of current illicit drug use was 14.7 percent. Among nonsmokers, only 2.5 percent were heavy drinkers and 2.6 percent were illicit drug users.

An estimated 6.8 million Americans (3.2 percent of the population) were current users of smokeless tobacco in 1996. The rate has not changed since 1993.


Approximately 4.1 million youths age 12-17 were current smokers in 1996. The rate of smoking among youths age 12-17 was 18.3 percent. The rate was 18.9 percent in 1994 and 20.2 percent in 1995, but these do not represent statistically significant changes.

Current smoking rates among young adults age 18-25 increased from 34.6 percent in 1994 to 35.3 percent in 1995 and 38.3 percent in 1996.

Youths age 12-17 who currently smoked cigarettes were about nine times as likely to use illicit drugs and 16 times as likely to drink heavily as nonsmoking youths (Figure 12).


In 1996, current smoking rates were higher among whites (29.8 percent) and blacks (30.4 percent) than among Hispanics (24.7 percent) and those of other race/ethnic groups (17.2 percent). Smokeless tobacco use was more prevalent among whites (3.8 percent) than among blacks (1.9 percent) or Hispanics (0.8 percent).


Among adults, men had somewhat higher rates of smoking than women, but rates of smoking were similar for males and females aged 12-17.

The rate of current smokeless tobacco use was significantly higher for men than for women in 1996 (6.0 percent vs. 0.6 percent). About 90 percent of smokeless tobacco users were men.


The rate of current cigarette use was 31 percent in the South region, 29 percent in the North Central, 27 percent in the Northeast, and 26 percent in the West. The rate of smoking was 27 percent in large metropolitan areas, 28 percent in small metropolitan areas, and 34 percent in nonmetropolitan areas.


Undisplayed Graphic
Level of educational attainment was correlated with tobacco usage. Thirty-seven percent of adults who had not completed high school smoked cigarettes, while only 17 percent of college graduates smoked.

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This page was last updated on February 05, 2009.