Good news: Fewer middle- and high-schoolers are using tobacco, according to a new government study.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that current tobacco use decreased from 14.9 percent to 7.1 percent between 2000 and 2011 for middle-schoolers, while current cigarette use fell from 10.7 percent to 4.3 percent during that time period.
For high-schoolers, current tobacco use went down from 34.4 percent to 23.2 percent between 2000 and 2011, while current cigarette use went down from 27.9 percent to 15.8 percent.
However, the researchers noted that the decline in smoking among kids and teens between 2000 and 2011 was relatively slow compared with the rate of decline in tobacco use between 1997 and 2003.
"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," CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said in a statement. "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."
The study was based on data from 18,866 children and teens from 214 schools that participated in the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
The researchers noted that cigar use was relatively popular in 2011, with nearly the same number of high-school boys reporting using cigars as using cigarettes (15.7 percent, versus 17.7 percent). Comparatively, just 7.4 percent of high-school girls reported using cigars.
And cigar use particularly among black high-schoolers increased, from 7.1 percent to 11.7 percent between 2009 and 2011, the researchers found.
Smokeless tobacco is also common among teens, with 12.9 percent of high-school boys reporting using it in 2011 (and just 1.6 percent of high-school girls using it).