Teen Cigarette Smoking

Overall, teen cigarette smoking has fallen by half, but rates for American Indian/Alaska Native teens remain stubbornly high

In a survey of Washington public school students, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders were asked how many times in the past 30 days they had smoked cigarettes. Combining responses from 2014 and 2016, 6% of students in King County reported smoking cigarettes in the past month.  While rates of teen use of all tobacco products have fallen along with cigarette smoking, e-cigarette use/vaping has climbed.

  • Trends: Teen cigarette smoking has decreased by over half, from 11% (2004) to 5% (2016). This decline was consistent across racial and ethnic groups and regions. However, at 12%, e-cigarette or vape pen use among teens is now twice as common as cigarette smoking

  • Grade: The rate of teen students who smoke was higher among students in higher grades, rising from 3% of 8th graders to 10% of 12th graders.

  • Sexual orientation: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens (13%) were over twice as likely as the King County average to smoke cigarettes in the past month.

  • Race and ethnicity: Asian students were less likely than King County students as a whole to report smoking cigarettes (3%), while American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) students were more likely (11%). Smoking in AIAN students was higher in every grade, and the gap between AIAN students and students overall grew progressively larger in higher grades. By 12th grade, 25% of AIAN students (1 in 4) smoked cigarettes compared to 10% of 12th graders overall.

For teen tobacco use including cigars, cigarillos, hookah, and chewing tobacco, go to Current Tobacco Use. For data on e-cigarette vaping, go here.


Notes & Sources

Source: Healthy Youth Survey.

Numerator: Students who responded more than "0 days" to the question "During the past 30 days, on how many days did you smoke cigarettes?” 

Denominator: All students who answered the question.

Every 2 years, Washington public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. To learn more about the survey, please go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/HealthyYouthSurvey.