Tobacco Use Among Rural and Urban US Middle and High School Students: National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011-2016

J Rural Health. 2020 Jan;36(1):48-54. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12356. Epub 2019 Mar 13.


Purpose: Rural adolescents engage in higher smoking and smokeless tobacco use rates than those from urban communities; urban adolescents are more likely to use e-cigarettes. The study investigated whether place of residence (rural vs urban) is associated with tobacco use prevalence and change in prevalence among middle and high school students over time.

Methods: We analyzed data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (2011-2016). Multiple logistic regression methods for weighted survey data assessed the relationship of place of residence with current tobacco product use over time, adjusting for demographics.

Findings: There was no difference in rate of change in use of any tobacco product between rural and urban middle or high school students. Adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and survey year, both middle and high school rural students were more likely to use cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, whereas urban high school students were more likely to use hookah. Significant polynomial trends were observed for e-cigarette and hookah use patterns, whereas linear changes in use patterns were detected for cigarette and smokeless tobacco use over time.

Conclusions: Rural high school students are more likely to smoke cigarettes and use smokeless tobacco than their urban counterparts, although prevalence rates have decreased over time. However, use of hookah and e-cigarettes among middle and high school students has increased over time regardless of place of residence. To stem the rapid increase in use of hookah and e-cigarettes, comprehensive tobacco control policies are needed regardless of rural or urban location.

Keywords: adolescents; e-cigarettes; nicotine; smoking; students.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population / trends
  • Schools / organization & administration
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Tobacco Use / psychology
  • Tobacco Use / trends*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Population / trends