How many adolescents start smoking each day in the United States?

J Adolesc Health. 1999 Oct;25(4):248-55. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(99)00024-5.


Purpose: To provide daily estimates of first experimentation and attainment of established smoking in adolescents 11-17 years of age.

Methods: The 1989 and 1993 Teenage Attitudes and Practices Surveys (TAPS) (16,954 observations) was used to estimate rates in 1991 for: (a) first experimentation (even a few puffs), and (b) established smoking (reaching a lifetime level of at least 100 cigarettes). The 1992 and 1993 Current Population Surveys (CPS) (82,279 adults) allowed calculation of year-specific initiation rates (1980-1989) from the age respondents reported as having started smoking "fairly regularly." Rates were applied to Census data for the appropriate years to yield numbers accruing each day. Estimates were calculated for adolescents (11- to 17-year-olds) and youth (11- to 20-year-olds).

Results: For TAPS, in 1991, 4824 adolescents first tried cigarettes and 1975 became established smokers each day. Considering all youth, these estimates increase to 5497/day for first experimentation and to 2933/day for established smokers. For CPS, from 1980 to 1989, around 2300 adolescents initiated fairly regular smoking each day. For all youth, the estimate has increased to about 3400/day.

Conclusions: Because approximately 4800 adolescents and 5500 youth appear to be experimenting with cigarettes for the first time each day, and close to 3000 youth become established smokers daily, increased prevention efforts are clearly justified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / trends
  • United States / epidemiology