Health + Safety

Study: Fewer Teens Becoming New Cigarette Smokers

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The culture and industry of smoking seem to have their own peculiar cycles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly one out of every five deaths in the U.S., including the more than 10% as the result of secondhand smoke exposure.

Between 2000 and 2004, cigarette smoking cost the U.S. more than $193 billion in health care expenses and lost productivity.

And for decades, as older smokers die off, young new smokers have taken their place. Every day close to 4,000 American kids under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette — and nearly 1,000 of them become brand-new, daily cigarette smokers.

But that cycle may be breaking. A new report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics said the percentage of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students who reported smoking cigarettes daily last year was at its lowest level in the survey’s history.

According to the report, 2% of 8th-graders, 5% of 10th-grade students and 9% of high school seniors said they smoked daily in 2012. Compare that data to the survey’s peak smoking years in the mid-1990s, when those numbers were 10%, 18% and 25%, respectively.