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SAMHSA News Release

Date: 5/17/2012 12:05 AM
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

Report shows decrease in smoking levels among adolescents and young adults in a six year period

Still many adolescents and young adults continue smoking

A new report shows that while a significant segment of minors and young adults are still current smokers there was a decrease in the rate of cigarette use among these populations between 2004 and 2010 (the year with the latest available data). The report, based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), shows that the rate of current cigarette use (having smoked at least once in the past month) among adolescents decreased from 11.9 percent in 2004 to 8.3 percent in 2010. Similarly, the level of current cigarette users among young adults decreased from 39.5 percent in 2004 to 34.2 percent in 2010.


“Although some progress has been made in curbing youth smoking, the fact remains that  one in 12 adolescents currently smoke and one in three young adults smoke – which means that far too many young people are still endangering their lives,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “As the recently released Surgeon General’s Report on Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults notes, smoking is the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and we must take every opportunity to prevent kids and young adults of today from becoming the hooked, ailing adult smokers of tomorrow.”


The NSDUH report revealed that the percentage of daily smokers among adolescents declined from 3.3 percent in 2004 to 1.9 percent in 2010. The percentage of young adults who smoked daily also declined from 20.4 percent in 2004 to 15.8 percent in 2010. 


Among these daily young adult smokers, the percentage who smoked 26 or more cigarettes per day (about one and a half packs or more) decreased from 6 percent to 3.4 percent over this time period.  Additionally the percentage of young adult daily smokers using 5 or less cigarettes per day rose from 24.4 percent in 2004 to 28.6 percent in 2010.


SAMHSA works to prevent illegal tobacco sales to underage youth and use through the Synar Amendment program -- a federal and state partnership. The most recent Synar Amendment report shows that the average national retailer violation rate of tobacco sales is down to 9.3percent -- the lowest level in the 14 year history of the program.


SAMHSA plans to build upon the success of this program and its other youth tobacco use prevention efforts to promote continued progress against cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco use by young people.


The report Trends in Cigarette Use among Adolescents and Young Adults is based on combined data from the 2004 – 2010 SAMHSA NSDUH surveys involving 157,524 people age 12 to 17 and 158,794 people aged 18 to 25. The full report is available at:

SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Last updated: 5/16/2012 2:51 PM

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