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NIDA. (2017, November 13). The Decline of Teen Tobacco Use. Retrieved from

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The NIDA Blog Team
November 13 2017
FDA promotion to reduce youth smoking
Image by FDA.

UPDATE: The 2018 Monitoring the Future survey shows that teens reported a dramatic increase in using vaping devices, in just a single year. 

The teen years are full of big decisions—about school, friends, and the future. Many teens also have to decide if they’ll resist peer pressure to use tobacco. In fact, most people who use tobacco as adults decided to start using it in their teen years.

That isn’t a super-smart decision. Teens often underestimate how easy it is to become addicted to tobacco. The nicotine in tobacco is very addictive, and that makes quitting hard. Not to mention, tobacco use can lead to cancer and heart disease, both of which can cause early death.

How low can it go?

The good news is that more teens are choosing not to use tobacco.

In a recent study, the number of middle and high school students in the United States who say they’ve used a tobacco product in the past 30 days went down to 3.9 million in 2016 from 4.7 million in 2015. That’s a big drop, especially in just 1 year!

Choices with risks

We’re glad more teens are getting the message that using tobacco is dangerous. But while teens’ use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and pipe tobacco dropped between 2015 and 2016, their use of hookah and e-cigarettes increased.

E-cigarettes have only been around for about 10 years, so scientists don’t know for sure how e-cigs affect the teen brain, which is still developing. What we do know is that many e-cigarettes deliver nicotine. Exposure to nicotine is never safe for young people because they’re more vulnerable to addiction than adults.

Decide now to avoid using tobacco and e-cigs, and spend your brain power on other important decisions about your future.

Learn more: what's the ingredient in cigarettes that causes addiction?