The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report this Thursday that says the number of teenagers smoking has decreased quite a lot since 1996. According to a survey were around 13,000 teenagers from 42 states and 21 large schools participated, 15.7% of them are currently smoking which is very different from the 36.4% registered in 1996 among high school students.

But there is more, according to the same report, fewer teenagers are having sex, and the number of fights has plummeted. It seems the next generation is taking its decisions more carefully. However, the CDC also says that using the phone while driving and sedentary lifestyles have increased, though.

Teens phone addiction
Common Sense Media has issued a report about the smartphone addiction among teenagers, which has indicated that half of them “feel addicted” to mobile devices. Photo credit: Adam Berry / Getty Images

“Way too many young people still smoke and other areas such as texting while driving remain a challenge. Our youth are our future.We need to invest in programs that help them make healthy choices so they live long, healthy lives.” Said Tom Frieden, the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Teens are smoking fewer cigarettes, yes, but it is also true they are picking up e-cigarettes which might not be as dangerous as the regular ones, but they also contain nicotine which makes them very addictive. Moreover, these electrical devices heat up some fluids, nicotine included, that the user is supposed to smoke, but there is something unusual about the product.

The nature of the device allows companies to offer flavors, which sounds like a very good idea, but some of these flavors have names like “The Milkman”, “Unicorn Blood”, “Dewberry Cream” and “Looper” which is advertised with a picture of a Fruit Loops like cereal. This has led many people to think that the marketing of these products is targeting young people. According to CDC fact sheets, less than 8% of adults use e-cigarettes, but 16% high school said they had used them in the last 30 days.

9 out of 10 smokers stated that they started smoking before they were 18

Specialists have identified five influential factors that can lead a teenager to start smoking. One of them is peer pressure. When people are young there is a strong necessity of being part of a group, this has been addressed many times. However, friends have been reported to play a significant role in making a person to try tobacco for the first time, especially in teenagers.

Also, most parents forbid cigarettes to their children, and when they want to be defiant, they might use them to “get back at them”. To gain acceptance, teens do a lot of things, joining a band, playing football, participating in the cheerleader squad and smoking. They do it because they think it is normal, and all their friends do it, but in fact, 9 out of 10 teens do not smoke.

Role models play a huge role here. Most smokers report having guardians who smoked. They also said media influenced them a great deal. T.V. ads, movies and shows can lead kids to think that smoking is cool.

There was a sudden decrease of smoking after the 90’s

There are a lot of factors that could be pointed out, but everything comes down to trends. It is a fact, things change and there has been a huge lot of that in the last 10 years. Smoking among students was first recognized as a problem in 1991, when almost 3 out of every 10 high school students consumed tobacco. The highest peak was 36.4% and it was reported in 1996.

In response to this statistics, the government took severe action. From advertisement, extra taxing, and more importantly, bans. Agencies assessed the problem in a big scale, but it was in 1998 when California decided to ban smoking in public places, included bars and clubs. In fact, the only legal place where you could smoke was in your house, and the measure spread like a virus. Soon enough it was difficult to legally vape in the U.S.

But the law is far from be the only thing that changed. Since marketing companies realized the power of decision that young people have, they have been targeting this sector of the market relentlessly. Teens are bombarded with information and there is just too much to do. Technology has become a huge part of their lives and a man in cowboy clothes promoting tobacco is just not that appealing. In our modern society, smoking outside your house has become synonym with being rude, and people will usually give a smoker a bad eye.

They are still not perfect

The survey carried out in 2013 is the first one to include texting and technology use into account. In this regard, there are some good news and bad news. For example, teens have been drinking less sodas a month which is great, but they also have adopted a very sedentary life-style. 41% of high school students spend 3-4 hours in front of a computer screen or the T.V. and that love for technology makes them dangerous on the road. According to the report, 32% of them said to have texted someone while driving.

CDC says the latest report is very surprising. The organization set the “healthy people goals” which include smoking among teenagers below 16%, but there are new trends that could prove troublesome, and its director, Tom Frieden, said they were going to take those aspects into account for future community programs.

Source: CDC