Most adult smokers started the habit as teens

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 19, 2012

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Tobacco prevention efforts must focus on adolescents and young adults because people who start smoking in their teens increase their risk of becoming daily smokers later in life, according to a surgeon general report released March 8.

The report examined the epidemiology, health effects and causes of tobacco use among young people 12 to 25. It shows that years of declines in tobacco use among this group have slowed for cigarette smoking and stalled for smokeless tobacco use (link).

The report calls for government leaders to advocate for taxing tobacco products and to prioritize funding for comprehensive tobacco control programs and school-based anti-smoking policies.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable and premature death, killing an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, according to the report. Each day in the U.S., more than 3,800 people younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette and more than 1,000 youths became regular cigarette smokers.

Eighty-eight percent of adults who smoke every day began the habit by age 18, the report says.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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