Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults
This is the 31st tobacco-related Surgeon General’s report issued since 1964. It describes the epidemic of tobacco use among youth ages 12 through 17 and young adults ages 18 through 25, including the epidemiology, causes, and health effects of this tobacco use and interventions proven to prevent it. Scientific evidence contained in this report supports the following facts:
Every day, more than 1,200 people in this country die due to smoking. For each of those deaths, at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers each day. Almost 90% of those replacement smokers smoke their first cigarette by age 18.
There could be 3 million fewer young smokers today if success in reducing youth tobacco use that was made between 1997 and 2003 had been sustained.
Rates of smokeless tobacco use are no longer declining, and they appear to be increasing among some groups.
Cigars, especially cigarette-sized cigars, are popular with youth. One out of five high school males smokes cigars, and cigar use appears to be increasing among other groups.
Use of multiple tobacco products—including cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco—is common among young people.
Prevention efforts must focus on young adults ages 18 through 25, too. Almost no one starts smoking after age 25. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99% started by age 26. Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26.
Pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk, who started the extreme sports movement, has turned away big-money offers from tobacco companies.