The CBHSQ Report header
National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Spotlight
March 16, 2016
One in Ten Older Adolescents are Current Smokers
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Past Month Cigarette Use among People Aged 12 or Older, by Age Group: 2014

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In the United States, people younger than age 18 cannot legally buy cigarettes. Although across all age groups smoking has declined since 2002,1 teen and young adult smoking remains a public health concern. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), rates of cigarette use were lower among underage smokers than among adults in most age groups. For example, about 1 in 30 (3.4%) people aged 14 to 15 and 1 in 10 people aged 16 to 17 (10.2%) smoked cigarettes in the past month. In contrast, nearly 1 in 4 people aged 18 to 20 (24.0%) and 1 in 3 people aged 21 to 25 (31.0%) smoked cigarettes in the past month. 

 
Research shows that the earlier people begin to smoke cigarettes, the less likely they are to quit.2 For this reason, educating youth on the risks of smoking before they begin is a central public health concern. Focusing on preventing or stopping underage smokers can improve the health of the Nation. Information on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) efforts to prevent underage smoking and to reduce tobacco use by people of all ages can be found at http://www.samhsa.gov/atod/tobacco.

1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/

2. Chen, J., and Milar, W.J. (1998). Age of smoking initiation: Implications for quitting.  Health Reports, 9 (4), 39-46.