Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Good News: Teen Smoking and Drug Use Down

“Cigarette smoking is at lowest levels in the history of the survey and overall drug use among teens and adolescents is continuing to decline.”

Those are the words of Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, commenting on their annual survey of youth health, “Monitoring the Future.” Since 1975, the National Institutes of Health has surveyed youth about all kinds of drug use.

In 1977, the peak year in the survey, 75.7% of twelfth graders reported that they have ever smoked. This year it was down to exactly half – 50.0%. Next year, perhaps, we will pass the threshold, and my year-end headline can be “Most teens have never smoked.” In that peak year of 1977, nearly a fifth (19.4%) of high school senior smoked half a pack or more a day. Today, it is down to 6.9%. Teen attitudes toward smoking have improved, too. Whereas at the beginning of the survey barely a majority (51.3%) of teens disapproved of smoking, now a solid three quarters (76.5%) disapprove – also a new record.

This compares to an adult smoking rate of 20.9%. Since most smokers started as teenagers, today’s much lower teen smoking results bode well for the future.


SPorcupine said...

This process is working a lot better than the famous failure of prohibiting alcohol. We've slowly deprived the tobacco-pushers of the airwaves, the billboards, and most magazines. We've also deprived them of people's worktime, and then made smoking breaks harder and harder to come by. Those changes erode addiction: you can't be a true chain smoker if you only get two breaks and lunch during the workday. And kids don't see it on TV, and many don't see it anywhere that looks cool.

Yesterday, I found our 11-year-old and his friend "smoking" two candy canes. They were doing a good job of cool posture, but they had NO IDEA how to hold cigarettes. They hadn't seen parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, teachers, or groups of teens do it often enough to know. That's social change on a grand scale.

Dan said...

smoking among teens may be down but abusing pain killers isn't as also confirmed by this report. we shall see how this trend plays out.

Gruntled said...

Smoking is the primary preventable killer. Reducing its place in society is a good thing. Abusing prescription drugs is bad, but the two problems are not in the same order of magnitude.