Trends in cigarette smoking among US adolescents, 1974 through 1991

Am J Public Health. 1995 Jan;85(1):34-40. doi: 10.2105/ajph.85.1.34.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine national trends in adolescent cigarette smoking prevalence.

Methods: We conducted trend analyses based on 1974 through 1991 current smoking prevalence data among persons aged 12 through 19 years from the National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse, High School Seniors Surveys, and National Health Interview Surveys.

Results: Overall smoking prevalence declined much more rapidly from 1974 through 1980 (1.9 percentage points annually among younger adolescents; the range among surveys of older adolescents was 0.2 to 2.0 percentage points annually) than from 1985 through 1991 (0 to 0.5 percentage points annually among all adolescents). Since 1980, smoking has generally declined at a slightly faster rate among older female adolescents than among male adolescents. Smoking among Black adolescents of all ages declined in nearly every survey population during each study period (range among surveys: 1974-1985 = 1.0 to 2.9 percentage points; 1985-1991 = 0.7 to 1.5 percentage points annually); for White adolescents, only minimal declines in smoking have occurred since 1985.

Conclusions: Since 1974, major changes in adolescent smoking patterns have occurred, especially among Blacks. The overall slowing rate of decline in smoking prevalence since 1985 may indicate success of increased tobacco advertising and promotional activities targeted at adolescents or inadequate antitobacco education efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / trends*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data