Community Impact: Underage Tobacco Use

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Community Impact


Adolescents residing in low-income public housing developments in inner-city regions may be particularly vulnerable to a variety of risk factors associated with cigarette smoking.


Tougher penalties and fines are established for underage smoking (see New York State Laws/Pending Legislation).

Raising cigarette taxes reduces smoking, especially among kids (and the Cigarette Companies Know It).  The cigarette companies have opposed tobacco tax increases by arguing that raising cigarette prices would not reduce adult or youth smoking. But the companies’ internal documents, disclosed in the tobacco lawsuits, show that they know very well that raising cigarette prices is one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce smoking, especially among kids.

Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in New York City are smoke-free establishments.Public Spaces in New York City covered by the Smoking Ban will go into effect May 23, 2011.  Smoking will be prohibited in all New York City parks except median strips; Beaches and boardwalks; Public golf courses; Sports stadium grounds; playgrounds, pools and inside stadiums



Tobacco and Nicotine

Nicotine, the main drug in tobacco, is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. In 2008, 28.4 percent of the U.S. population 12 and older used tobacco at least once in the month prior to being interviewed. This figure includes 3.6 million young people age 12 to 17. Young adults aged 18 to 25 reported the highest rate of current use of any tobacco products (44.6 percent) in 2008. Most of them smoked cigarettes.

 (Source: The

Tobacco use in middle school students

The most recent numbers on tobacco use among U.S. middle school students come from a 2009 survey by the CDC. (Middle school includes children in grades 6, 7, and 8.)

  • More than 8% of middle school students reported using some form of tobacco -- cigarettes, spit or other oral tobacco, cigars, pipes, and flavored cigarettes like bidis or kreteks -- at least once in the past 30 days.
  • Over 5% of the students had smoked cigarettes, and 4% had smoked cigars. About 3% had used spit or other smokeless tobacco. Around 2% had smoked pipes and the same number had smoked bidis (about 2%). A little over 1% had smoked kreteks.
  • Boys (about 10%) were more likely than girls (about 7%) to use some form of tobacco. Unlike previous years, boys were more likely to smoke cigarettes as well as use smokeless tobacco, bidis, kreteks, pipes, or cigars.

 Tobacco use in high school students

The most recent tobacco numbers for high school students come from the 2009 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey and other CDC surveys. Keep in mind that these studies are done with students that are still in school. Those who drop out have higher rates of smoking and tobacco use.

  • Nationwide, about 26% of high school students reported using some type of tobacco (cigarette, cigar, pipe, bidi, kretek, or smokeless tobacco) on at least 1 of the 30 days before the survey.
  • On average, about 1 out of 5 students (20%) smoked cigarettes. Girls were almost as likely to smoke as boys. White students (23%) were more likely to smoke than black (10%), or Hispanic/Latino (18%) students.
  • About 14% of high school students had smoked cigars in the last 30 days. Male students (19%) were more likely to smoke cigars than female students (9%).
  • About 9% of high school students reported using spit or other smokeless tobacco at least once in the 30 days before the survey. About 15% of all the boys and more than 2% of all the girls surveyed had used some form of smokeless tobacco.
  • In a 2007 survey, 61% of all the high school students who reported that they smoked or had smoked in the past had tried to quit at least once during the year before, but only 12% were successful.
  • Other tobacco use among high school students included pipes (about 2%), bidis (about 2%), and kreteks (about 1%).  (Source: American Cancer Association - Last Medical Review: 11/17/2010)