Menu

Smoking Among Youth

Download book chapter
Call To Action

In order to prevent youth tobacco use, comprehensive regulations to reduce the affordability and accessibility of tobacco products must be implemented or enforced, including taxation, bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS), and the minimum legal sale age. These regulations must include all tobacco products.

Percentage of male students ages 13–15 who use any tobacco products, 2011 or latest available data

Percentage of female students ages 13–15 who use any tobacco products, 2011 or latest available data

Globally, cigarette smoking is common among youth. Another serious concern is that other tobacco products—including pipes, hookahs, smokeless tobacco, or bidis—are also commonly used by youth worldwide. In fact, prevalence of use of these products is higher than that of cigarettes in many countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean, and sub-Saharan Africa. These rates are even higher than the corresponding rates in adults in many countries. This indicates the necessity for tobacco regulations for adolescents to include tobacco products other than cigarettes, and the need to increase awareness about their harms.

Most regular smokers initiate smoking before 20 years of age. Youth may have several reasons for starting tobacco use, including looking ‘cool’, ‘mature’, or ‘sociable’, or believing that tobacco use is good for coping with stress and weight control. The factors increasing youth tobacco initiation may vary across countries, but some common factors are: tobacco use by parents or peers; exposure to tobacco advertising; acceptability of tobacco use among peers or in social norms advertised in movies or tobacco commercials; having depression, anxiety, or stress; and higher accessibility and lower prices of tobacco products.

Tobacco pricing and stronger regulations are crucial to addressing the youth tobacco epidemic. Teens are particularly sensitive to tobacco pricing; higher prices prevent many of them from becoming regular tobacco users. Tobacco regulations are also important. As waterpipe smoking may be exempt from smoking bans in public places, more young people may smoke waterpipes in social gatherings in hookah (water pipe) lounges. The percentage of youth smokers who usually obtain tobacco products in a store is high in many countries, but it can be reduced by banning tobacco product sales to minors or enforcing the existing bans. The minimum legal sale age for tobacco products in several countries is now 21 years, which is more effective in reducing youth exposure to tobacco products than is the 18-years limit in effect in many other countries.

Student Tobacco Use

Prevalence of current use of tobacco products: by World Health Organization region, in students ages 13–15 in select countries (%), 2010–2011

In addition to cigarette smoking, other tobacco products are commonly used by children: in some regions, the rates are even higher than cigarette smoking rates.

“VULNERABLE POPULATIONS ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE AND HIGHLY RECEPTIVE TO MARKETING. Predatory tobacco industry retail marketing practices aimed at the culture and lifestyle of youth and low socioeconomic status communities.”–La Tanisha C. Wright, an anti-tobacco activist and a former trade marketing manager at Brown & Williamson (B&W) Tobacco Company

5.6M

Although youth smoking rates in the United States halved during 1997–2011, one out of every 13 American children under age 18 alive today (around 5.6 million children) WILL DIE PREMATURELY from smoking-related diseases unless current smoking rates drop further.

In contrast to scientific evidence, there is still an INCORRECT BELIEF THAT SOME TOBACCO PRODUCTS ARE SAFE. “Our parents don’t mind us smoking ‘shisha’ [a local water pipe] and it is not dangerous.” “I play sports and would never smoke a cigarette because it harms the body and you get cancer, but `shisha’ is quite safe.” –Two Pakistani young adults, 2009

IT’S A SHAME FOR OUR FAMILY LINE THAT YOU AND YOUR BROTHER ARE NOT SMOKING — all the men in our family smoke—your father, your grandfather. You are breaking the chain of our family’s smoking history”.–A young Indonesian man recounting his uncle’s shame that he does not smoke, 2009

Cigarette Smoking Among Youth Age 15-19

0 - 6.9
7 - 15.9
16 - 29.9
30 - 100
No Data
0 - 6.9
7 - 15.9
16 - 29.9
30 - 100
No Data
Resources

Methods

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). University of Washington. Smoking prevalence data, 2013. 2012 Data are linked. 2013 estimates are available from IHME. Available from: http://ghdx.healthdata.org/record/global-smoking-prevalence-and-cigarette-consumption-1980-2012

Percentage of boys ages 15–19 who smoke cigarettes, 2013

Percentage of girls ages 15–19 who smoke cigarettes, 2013

In 2009,41% OF INDONESIAN BOYS ages 13–15 were current cigarette smokers.

Of teens in the same age range who bought cigarettes
in a store, 59% were not refused purchase because of their age.

POLAND

A sub-national survey among youth (ages 15-19) in Poland showed an increase in last month e-cigarette smoking (6% to 30%), as well as an increase in regular cigarette use (24% to 38%) and dual use of regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes (4% to 22%) from 2010-11 to 2013-14.

In October 2013, a German court banned the “Be Marlboro” campaign, finding that in violation of Germany’s tobacco advertising law it encouraged children to smoke. “The fact that PMI [Philip Morris International] continues with the Marlboro campaign in Asia despite being found guilty in Germany only goes to show they want Asia’s children no matter what. We have to stop them and protect our children using stringent laws.”–Mary Assunta, senior policy advisor, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance

In the United Kingdom in 2011, EVERY DAY AROUND 600 BOYS AND GIRLS ages 11–15 (over 200,000 a year) took up smoking.

Cigarette Smoking Among Youth Age 13-15

0 - 6.9
7 - 15.9
16 - 29.9
30 - 100
No Data
0 - 6.9
7 - 15.9
16 - 29.9
30 - 100
No Data

Percentage of male students ages 13–15 who smoke cigarettes, 2011 or latest available data

Percentage of female students ages 13–15 who smoke cigarettes, 2011 or latest available data

Purchasing Cigarettes

Percentage of current smoker students who usually got their cigarettes by purchasing them in a store, ages 13-15, 2010–2011

The percentage of youth smokers who usually get tobacco products by purchasing them in a store is high in many countries.

Download book chapter
Close