New Monitoring the Future Data: U.S. youth smoking rates fell to record lows in 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
RELEASE: December 19, 2012
Peter Hamm, 202-296-5469
New Survey Shows U.S.
Youth Smoking Rates Fell to Record Lows in 2012
Elected Leaders Must
Step Up Fight to Accelerate Gains
Statement of Susan M. Liss
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
WASHINGTON, DC (December 19,
2012) – In great news for the nation’s health, the Monitoring the Future survey
released today shows that youth smoking declined significantly in 2012, and
smoking rates fell to record lows for all three grades surveyed – grades 8, 10
and 12. This is the second year in a row that this survey has found a
significant annual decline in youth smoking. It is especially encouraging
that youth smoking is falling again following several years in which progress
had nearly stalled.
The survey is released
annually by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by researchers
at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
Key findings of the survey
For all three grades combined, the percentage
who said they smoked any cigarettes in the prior 30 days fell from 11.7 percent
in 2011 to 10.6 percent in 2012.
From 2011 to 2012, smoking rates fell from 6.1
percent to 4.9 percent among 8th graders (a statistically
significant decrease), from 11.8 percent to 10.8 percent among 10th
graders, and from 18.7 percent to 17.1 percent among 12th
graders. All three are record lows in the 38 years this survey has been
Longer-term declines are even more
heartening. Since youth smoking peaked in the mid-1990s, smoking rates
have fallen by about three-fourths among 8th graders, two-thirds
among 10th graders and half among 12th graders.
Among 12th graders, the smoking rate has declined from a peak of
36.5 percent in 1997 to 17.1 percent in 2012.
This progress is a remarkable
public health success story and will lead to a healthier future with fewer
deaths, disease and medical costs caused by tobacco use, the nation’s number
one cause of preventable death. These results are also powerful evidence
that we know how to win the fight against tobacco by implementing
scientifically proven strategies. These include higher tobacco taxes,
well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media
campaigns, strong smoke-free laws, and effective regulation of tobacco products
If elected officials at all
levels aggressively implement these measures, today’s survey results show that
it is within our reach to create a tobacco-free generation. But progress
could stall and even reverse – as has happened before – without a strong,
sustained commitment by national and state leaders to win this fight.
The University of Michigan
researchers who conducted the survey point to the large 2009 increase in the
federal cigarette tax, a 62-cent per pack hike, as a likely key factor in the
renewed smoking declines.
The cigarette tax increase is
one of several strong actions the Obama Administration has taken to reinvigorate
the fight against tobacco. In 2009, President Obama signed the landmark
law granting the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products,
which imposed new restrictions on tobacco marketing and sales to kids. In
March of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
launched an unprecedented media campaign aimed at encouraging smokers to quit
and preventing kids from starting to smoke. The health care reform law
expanded coverage for tobacco cessation treatments and created a Prevention and
Public Health Fund that is providing critical support for tobacco prevention
and cessation efforts. The new survey indicates that these actions are
having an impact.
To keep making progress, the
Administration must build on these accomplishments. Priorities include
effective implementation of the FDA’s authority, ensuring that insurers provide
the cessation coverage required by the health reform law, preserving the
prevention fund and expanding the CDC’s media campaign.
It is critical that the
states step up their efforts, which have lagged in recent years. The
states must restore funding for tobacco prevention programs that have been
slashed by 36 percent (nearly $260 million) since 2008. The states this
year are collecting a record $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and
tobacco taxes, but are spending less than two percent of it to fight tobacco
use. This is shameful and must improve. States must also step up
the pace in enacting tobacco tax increases and smoke-free laws.
Despite our tremendous
progress, the battle against tobacco is far from over. We cannot be
satisfied when 17 percent of high school seniors still graduate as smokers,
putting them at risk for debilitating diseases and premature death. We
cannot let our guard down when the tobacco industry still spends $8.5 billion a
year – nearly $1 million every hour – to market its deadly and addictive
products and is pushing new products, including new forms of smokeless tobacco
and flavored "little cigars,” that entice youth. We cannot be complacent
when tobacco still kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation nearly
$100 billion in health care bills each year.
We cannot declare victory
until every child is tobacco-free and we have eliminated the death and disease
caused by tobacco.
The tobacco-related findings
of the 2012 Monitoring the Future survey can be found at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/12data.html#2012data-cigs.
Source: Meg Riordan, MPH, Director, Policy Research, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids