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1 in 4 Smokes by Time of Graduation, Study Finds

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About one in four students are regular smokers by the time they finish high school, the results of a new federal study suggest.

The study, which was conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, also found that girls smoke at about the same rate as boys and that white adolescents are more likely than blacks to smoke.

The findings, which are based on a nationally representative survey of nearly 10,000 adolescents ages 12 through 18, found that older teenagers were far more likely to smoke than younger teenagers.

The survey found that 2.4 percent of 12-year-old respondents said they had smoked during the past month, and fewer than 1 percent said they had smoked a cigarette during the past week. Among 14-year-olds, however, 10.4 percent said they had smoked during the past month, and 7.1 percent said they had smoked during the previous week.

The study found that for each additional year of age, the rate of students who said they smoked during the past month increased by about 5 percent. Of the 17-year-olds, 24.3 percent said they had smoked at least once during the past 30 days, compared with 30.6 percent for the 18-year-olds.

Gender Differences

Before they reached their 18th birthday, the survey found, girls were just about as likely as boys to smoke, and, in some cases, they smoked more often than their male peers. Up until the age of 17, girls, with the exception of 15-year-olds, were more likely than boys to have smoked during the past month.

On a weekly basis, while 13- and 14-year-old girls were more likely to smoke than boys the same age, the smoking rates for both sexes were roughly equal through age 17.

By age 18, however, males said they were far more likely te smoke than females. The study found that 34.6 percent of the males this age had smoked during the past month, compared with 26.2 percent of the girls, and that 29.1 percent of the boys said they had smoked during the previous week, compared with 21.3 percent of the females this age.

High-school dropouts, the study said, were far more likely to have smoked during the previous week than students who were attending or who had completed school, 43.3 percent compared with 17.1 percent.

More than half of the male dropouts said they had smoked during the past seven days.

The study also found that black adolescents were far less likely than white or Hispanic students to smoke. About 6 percent of black students said they had smoked during the past month, compared with 11.7 percent of Hispanic students and 17.6 percent of white students.

Black females, the survey said, were the least likely to smoke, and white males the most likely.

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