Number of New Daily Smokers Falls Over 2 Years

December 1, 2001

ROCKVILLE, Maryland-Initiation of daily smoking among young people has declined sharply from its peak in 1997, and cigarette use among youths and young adults declined again between 1999 and 2000, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

ROCKVILLE, Maryland—Initiation of daily smoking among young people has declined sharply from its peak in 1997, and cigarette use among youths and young adults declined again between 1999 and 2000, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported that the number of new daily smokers dropped to 1.4 million in 1999 from 1.9 million in 1997. Among smokers under the age of 18, this means the average of new daily smokers declined to 2,145 per day from 3,186 in 1997—a decrease of 33%. Almost all daily cigarette users begin smoking before age 18.

"This change reflects years of public and private sector antitobacco efforts and will pay off in terms of millions of lives spared from the ravages of cigarette smoking," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in releasing the results of the study.

The National Household Survey estimates the prevalence of the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. It is conducted annually by HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The 2000 study involved a representative sample of more than 71,000 Americans age 12 and older.

According to the survey, an estimated 65.5 million American youths and adults used tobacco produces in 2000. Cigarette smokers totaled 55.7 million, or 24.9% of the population age 12 and older; 10.7 million (4.8%) smoked cigars; 7.6 million (3.4%) used smokeless tobacco; and 2.1 million (1.0%) smoked tobacco in pipes.

The decline in cigar smokers to 4.8% from 5.5% in 1999 was a statistically significant change. However, the percentages of smokeless tobacco users and pipe smokers remained unchanged.

Among 12- to 17-year-olds, cigarette use declined to 13.4% in 2000 from 14.9% in 1999, primarily because of a decline in smoking by boys. The smoking rate for young males was 12.8% and 14.1% for young females. Cigarette used by those ages 18 to 25 dropped to 38.3% in 2000 from 39.7% in 1999.

Marlboro, Newport, and Camel remained the brands of choice for adolescent cigarette smokers; 54.8% of current smokers between ages 12 and 17 reported Marlboro as their usual brand.