Teens and Smoking - It's Not Just Cigarettes Anymore

Do Your Kids Smoke?

Cigarette Warning
Do cigarette warnings help prevent kids from smoking?. Photo courtesy of the FDA

There is some good news and bad news when it comes to teens and smoking.

First the bad news.

According to the CDC, "each day in the United States, more than 3,800 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers." And many of them continue to smoke regularly as adults, increasing their risk of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

The CDC also reports that 'Teen smoking is often an early warning sign of future problems. Teens who smoke are three times as likely as nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times as likely to use marijuana, and 22 times as likely to use cocaine. Smoking is also associated with numerous other high risk behaviors, including fighting and having unprotected sex.'

There is actually little good news though.

Although a recent report from the CDC, Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011–2014., showed a decrease in teens smoking cigarettes and cigars, there was a "substantial increases were observed in current e-cigarette and hookah use among middle and high school students."

Unfortunately, that still means that "4.6 million middle and high school students continue to be exposed to harmful tobacco product constituents, including nicotine."

In 2014, "one in four high school students and one in 13 middle school students used one or more tobacco products in the last 30 days."

Teens and Nicotine

As we have seen, in addition to regular cigarettes, teens and pre-teens are also smoking:

  • flavored cigarettes
  • e-cigarettes
  • hookahs
  • smokeless tobacco
  • cigars

And many try or regularly use two or more types of tobacco and nicotine containing products.

It's not just cigarettes anymore.

Helping Teens Quit Smoking

While the goal is still on keeping kids from ever starting to smoke, since many still do, it is important to know that there are resources to help teens quit smoking.

Help your child be a smoke free teen and also review some of the recommendations from the CDC, including:

  • devising targeted and effective media campaigns,
  • reducing depictions of tobacco use in entertainment media,
  • instituting campaigns to discourage family and friends from providing cigarettes to young persons,
  • promoting smoke-free homes,
  • instituting comprehensive school-based programs and policies in conjunction with supportive community activities to prevent smoking initiation and encourage smoking cessation, and
  • decreasing the number of adult smokers (e.g., parents) to present more nonsmoking role models.

Does your child smoke?


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flavored Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2015;64(38):1066–70

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011–2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2015;64(14):381–5

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