Health >> Tobacco >> Teens >> Type of Use by Grade

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1 in 4 King County 12th graders used some kind of tobacco product in 2010.

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., accounting for almost 1 in 5 deaths each year. Most tobacco users become addicted during adolescence, so prevention (and marketing) efforts often focus on teens.

In a 2010 survey of Washington public school students, teens were asked about their use in the past 30 days of cigarettes, cigars, or cigarillos; snuff or chewing tobacco; and tobacco that tastes like fruit, candy, or alcohol. Although 2008 data showed that hookah (water pipe) use was common among King County teens, hookah use was omitted in the 2010 survey, doubtless resulting in underestimates of overall tobacco use.

Cigarette smoking accounted for only a fraction of overall tobacco use by King County teens.

  • In 2010, cigarette smoking represented only 44% of total tobacco use among 8th graders, 64% of total use among 10th graders, and 60% of total use among 12th graders.
  • In 2008, the last time a question on hookah use was included, the rates of tobacco use among King County teens were:
    • 10% for 8th graders
    • 21% for 10th graders
    • 34% for 12th graders
  • Hookah use is at least as harmful as smoking cigarettes.  (The hookah question was included in the 2012 survey.)

Cigarette smoking and overall tobacco use among King County teens increased with age.

  • 12th graders were 3.5 times more likely than 8th graders to report smoking cigarettes or using any kind of tobacco over the past 30 days.
  • 10th graders were twice as likely as 8th graders to report smoking cigarettes or using any kind of tobacco.
  • From 2006 to 2010, cigarette smoking declined among 8th and 10th graders; 12th graders showed no significant change over time (data not shown).  Data on total tobacco use cannot be compared over time because the survey questions were not the same.

King County teens are less likely to use tobacco than teens across Washington State.  King County rates appear lower than national rates as well, but the data aren’t directly comparable.

  • King County 8th and 10th graders were less likely to smoke (and use any kind of tobacco) than 8th and 10th graders across Washington State, but smoking (and all tobacco use) among King County 12th graders did not differ from the state average for 12th graders.  See Notes & Sources for Washington State data.

In a 2009 national survey of high school students, 20% smoked cigarettes and 26% reported using cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, or chewing tobacco in the past 30 days. The national data combine 9th through 12th grades, so are not directly comparable to King County data.  However, the national rates for all 4 grades combined are higher than the rates for King County 12th graders (the grade with highest rate for cigarette smoking).