While smoking among U.S. teens is continuing to decrease, it is not decreasing as quickly as it used to, a trend the folks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), find troubling.
The CDC's new report, Current Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students -- United States, 2011, shows that while tobacco use by American middle school and high school students continued to decrease slowly from 2000 to 2011, the steepest rate of decline seen between 1997 and 2003 has slowed considerably, with the prevalence of smoking among high students remaining high.
According to the report, nearly 30% of high school males and 18% of high school females used smoked or smokeless tobacco products during 2011. Among middle school students, about 8% of males and 6% of females used tobacco.
The report also shows that cigar smoking among high school males has increased significantly, nearly equaling cigarette smoking in 2011. For example, among black high school students, cigar use increased significantly from 7.1% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2011. While cigars contain the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes, they are not subject to restrictions on flavorings and misleading descriptors such as "light" or "low tar," according to the report.
Perhaps most disturbing, the report showed that while cigarette use declined from 19.2% in 2009 to 15.8% in 2011, there were no significant declines in the overall use of tobacco products among middle school students.
Also See: Where Do U.S. Kids Get Their Cigarettes?
"An overall decline in tobacco use is good news, but although 4 out of 5 teens don't smoke, far too many kids start to smoke every day," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, in a press release. "Most tobacco use begins and becomes established during adolescence. This report is further evidence that we need to do more to prevent our nation's youth from establishing a deadly addiction to tobacco."
Also See: What are You Really Smoking?