Teen Smoking Dropped to the Lowest Level in 22 Years, CDC

First Posted: Jun 13, 2014 07:38 AM EDT

There has been a significant drop in the rate of cigarette smoking among high school students, the lowest since the survey on youth behavior began in 1991, according to a federal report.

In a latest announcement the Centers for Disease Control and Protection says that the rate of cigarette smoking among U.S. high school students dropped to the lowest level in 22 years and that they are also engaging in fewer physical fights.   The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reveals that texting while driving continues to stay a major concern.

Based on the current teen smoking rate of 15.7 percent, it is evident that United States has met its national Healthy People 2020 objective of lowering cigarette use among adolescents to 16 percent or less. 

Despite this significant reduction in tobacco use, the authorities are still battling to reduce the overall use of tobacco. The survey highlights the rise in the use of hookah and e-cigarette. Over the recent years there has been a drop in the use of cigars, however, the current use of cigars among male high school seniors is 23 percent.

"It's encouraging that high school students are making better health choices such as not fighting, not smoking, and not having sex," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  "Way too many young people still smoke and other areas such as texting while driving remain a challenge.  Our youth are our future.  We need to invest in programs that help them make healthy choices so they live long, healthy lives."

The data related to behavior that leads to unintentional injuries and violence showed that students who engaged in physical fights at least once in the last 12 months dropped from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2013.

The survey produced mixed results on the youth's sexual risk behavior. There has been a drop in the number of high school students who are currently sexually active. The number dropped from 38 percent in 1991 to 34 percent in 2013.  Among those who are sexually active, the use of condoms has also declined from 63 percent in 2003 to 59 percent in 2013. 

"The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is an important tool for understanding how health risk behaviors among youth vary across the nation and over time," said Laura Kann, Ph.D., chief of CDC's School-Based Surveillance Branch. "We can use these data to help schools, communities, families, and students reduce youth risk behaviors that are still prevalent and to monitor those that are newly emerging."

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