Beyond Experimentation: 5 Trajectories of Youth Cigarette Smoking

Tobacco-induced disease remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, with minorities bearing a disproportionate burden of the disease burden. Because 80% of adult smokers begin smoking before age 18, tobacco control efforts often focus on preventing adolescents from smoking their first cigarette. However, tobacco control researchers Lauren Dutra, PhD, et al. found that only one-third of youth who experiment with cigarettes ever become regular smokers. As a result, these programs miss a key opportunity to prevent the transition from experimentation to established smoking, which may occur in the mid-to-late 20s. Targeting young adults (18 to 24) is important because this group is most likely to quit and do so successfully. Furthermore, their analysis also supports increasing the smoking age from 18 to 21.  Read the full article in PLoS One, published in February, 2017.