The 2012 Surgeon General's Report describes the epidemic of tobacco use among youth ages 12 through 17 and young adults ages 18 through 25, including the epidemiology, causes, and health effects of this tobacco use and interventions proven to prevent it. Scientific evidence contained in this report supports the following facts:
We have made progress in reducing tobacco use among youth; however, far too many young people are still using tobacco. Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes. Rates of decline for cigarette smoking have slowed in the last decade and rates of decline for smokeless tobacco use have stalled completely.
Tobacco use by youth and young adults causes both immediate and long-term damage. One of the most serious health effects is nicotine addiction, which prolongs tobacco use and can lead to severe health consequences. The younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they’ll be addicted.
Youth are vulnerable to social and environmental influences to use tobacco; messages and images that make tobacco use appealing to them are everywhere.
Tobacco companies spend more than a million dollars an hour in this country alone to market their products. This report concludes that tobacco product advertising and promotions still entice far too many young people to start using tobacco.
Comprehensive, sustained, multi-component programs can cut youth tobacco use in half in 6 years.
Read the full report here.