Despite declines in tobacco use in adults, use among adolescents is increasing. In the last decade, use of smoking increased by 29% for 8th graders and 23% for 10th graders.
Nearly 90% of persons who smoke report that they tried their first cigarette before the age of 18–and 46% of high school students say they have tried cigarette smoking. These young people will smoke an average of 16 years before quitting.
Although smoking in high school students has declined this year, rates remain high: 19% of all high school students report smoking regularly. Additionally, nearly 9% of high school students (15% male, 2% female) used smokeless tobacco regularly.
YOUNG PEOPLE AT RISK
More than 438,000 deaths per year in the United States are directly attributed to tobacco use. This is more than one out of every five deaths. Smoking accounts for 30% of cancer deaths and 90% of lung cancer deaths.
Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer. This risk increases as the individual continues to smoke. Cigarette smoking also causes heart disease and cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus,and bladder. Smokeless tobacco, too, causes heart disease and cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and esophagus; but also causes gum recession and an increased risk for stroke.
Cigarette smoking by young people leads to other immediate health problems including respiratory and nonrespiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use.
The younger people begin smoking cigarettes, the more likely they are to become strongly addicted to nicotine. Several studies have found nicotine to be addictive in ways similar to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Of all addictive behaviors, cigarette smoking is the one most likely to become established during adolescence.
Our Dare to Face Your Future: Anti-Smoking program is designed to help students learn about the dangers of smoking in an interactive museum-like exhibit, and includes a lot of very unique mementos for students.