Teenage smoking rate declines

Where do we see it going in the future?

Teenage smoking rate declines

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 90 percent of current smokers started before the age of 18, and 99 percent started by the age of 26. Every day, almost 3,900 children younger than 18 have tried their first cigarette, and an estimated 2,100 of these young adults will become daily smokers.

The American Lung Association said that people who begin smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Most of the young adults who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so.

While all this information makes it seem like the smoking trend is never going to end, cigarette smoking among high school students in the U.S is actually at its lowest rate in 22 years.

In 1997, teen smoking reached its all time high rate with 36.8 percent of U.S high schoolers smoking according to the CDC. As of 2013, the rate has dropped down to 15.7 percent. The U.S has met its Healthy People 2020 goal of reducing teenage smoking down to 16 percent or less.

The decrease is due to a number of factors. The cost of cigarettes rising is an effect for the decreasing rates of smoking for all ages. The rate for adults smoking has dropped over the years too, so teens don’t have as many smoking role models to look up to. The stigmatization of smoking has caused many public places such as restaurants, bars and school campuses to prohibited smoking.

Despite the dropping rate, smoking isn’t going away completely anytime soon.

A major issue is the increased use of electronic cigarettes. From 2011 to 2012, the use of electronic cigarettes among middle schoolers and high schoolers has nearly doubled. In 2011, middle schoolers and high schoolers who had tried electronic cigarettes was 3.3 percent, but in 2012, the percentage went to 6.8. Electronic cigarette smokers in 2011 was 1.2 percent, which increased to 2.1 percent in 2012.

It isn’t clear whether electronic cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. A recent study found that e-cigarettes can cause increased resistance in the airways within minutes of inhalation of the vapors, making it harder to breathe. Other studies have suggested the products can help smokers quit.

Even though the U.S has already met its Healthy People 2020 goal of decreasing teen smoking rates below 16 percent, this percentage stills needs to decrease.

Caving into the peer pressure to try your first cigarette isn’t worth the troubles you will face later on in life. For current smokers, the journey towards quitting isn’t an easy one, but the steps taken can benefit you immensely in the future. Either way, keeping yourself away from any form of smoking will make your future self be extremely grateful you did.