In 2017, approximately 1 percent of eighth-graders, 2 percent of tenth-graders, and 4 percent of twelfth-graders reported smoking conventional cigarettes daily, compared with 7, 14, and 21 percent, respectively, in 2000. Twelfth-grade daily smoking peaked in 1997 at 25 percent, while daily smoking peaked in 1996 for eighth- and tenth-graders, at 10 and 18 percent, respectively (Appendix 1).
Factors that may be associated with these long-term declines in smoking rates include the following: increases in the level of students’ disapproval of, and their perception of risk connected with, smoking; adverse publicity on the tobacco industry’s role in promoting addiction; a decline in cigarette advertising reaching youth, along with an increase in anti-smoking advertising; and substantial price increases for cigarettes.
Although conventional cigarette use is declining, e-cigarette use is on the rise. From 2011 to 2017, the proportion of high school students who had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days increased from 2 to 12 percent, while conventional cigarette use in the past 30 days declined from 16 to 8 percent.
Daily smoking among students increases with age. While only 0.6 percent of eighth-graders reported daily conventional cigarette use in 2017, 4.2 percent of twelfth-graders reported the same. Additionally, while use of e-cigarettes in the past 30 days was lower in 2017 among eighth-graders than among their older peers, it was similar among tenth- and twelfth-graders (7 percent among eighth-graders, compared with 13 and 17 percent among tenth- and twelfth-graders, respectively) (Appendices 1 and 2).
Non-Hispanic white students in the tenth and twelfth grades have higher rates of daily conventional cigarette use than their non-Hispanic black and Hispanic peers. In 2017, 3 percent of non-Hispanic white tenth-graders smoked cigarettes daily, compared with 1 and 2 percent, respectively, of non-Hispanic black and Hispanic tenth-graders. Among twelfth-graders, there was a similar difference, with 6 percent of non-Hispanic white students smoking daily, compared with 3 and 2 percent of non-Hispanic black and Hispanic students, respectively. Differences by race and Hispanic origin among eighth-graders were less pronounced in 2017, although rates for non-Hispanic white students were slightly higher (Appendix 1).
In 2017, conventional cigarette smoking rates for males and females were comparable across all three grade levels. This represents a change from the beginning of the decade, when males were more likely to smoke cigarettes daily than females at all three grade levels (Appendix 1).
Male students are more likely to use e-cigarettes than their female peers. Among males in 2017, 7 percent of eighth-graders, 13 percent of tenth-graders, and 21 percent of twelfth-graders used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, compared with 6, 13, and 13 percent of females, respectively (Appendix 2).
In general, students whose parents have high levels of education are less likely to smoke conventional cigarettes daily than students whose parents have low levels of education. For example, in 2017, among tenth-grade students with a parent who did not complete high school and students with a parent with only a high school diploma, 4 percent smoked cigarettes daily, compared with 1 percent of students with a parent who had completed college or graduate school.
In 2017, eighth- and tenth-grade students whose parents completed college were less likely to have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days than their peers whose parents had less education. However, among twelfth-graders, there was no clear pattern of use by parental education (Appendix 2).
Eighth-grade students who do not plan to complete four years of college are roughly five times more likely to smoke conventional cigarettes daily than students who have such plans (1.8 versus 0.4 percent in 2017). At twelfth grade, this gap narrows, although those without college plans are still more than three times as likely to smoke as their peers with such plans (9 and 3 percent, respectively) (Appendix 1).
Patterns are similar in the case of e-cigarette use (Appendix 2).
State and local estimates
NOTE: Estimates of drug use from the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse (NHSDA), used to generate these state-level estimates, are generally lower than estimates generated by the Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF). Since the MTF was the source of the national estimates presented in this indicator, users should not make direct comparisons of estimates made from the two sources. For information on methodological differences in the surveys that may be causing these differences in estimates, see:
Harrison, L. D. (2001). Understanding the differences in youth drug prevalence rates produced by the MTF, NHSDA, and YRBS studies. Journal of Drug Issues, 31(3), 665–694.
Data for 1976–2017: Source: Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2018). Demographic subgroup trends among adolescents in the use of various licit and illicit drugs, 1975–2017 (Monitoring the Future Occasional Paper No. 90) [Tables 127–132; 141]. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research. Retrieved from http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/occpapers/mtf-occ90.pdf.
Raw data source
The Monitoring the Future Survey.
Students were considered daily cigarette smokers if they indicated that they smoked one or more cigarettes per day in the last 30 days.
Students were considered e-cigarette smokers if they indicated they used any e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. The question referred to “electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes.”
 Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2011). Monitoring the future: National results on adolescent drug use, Overview of key findings. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research. Retrieved from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2010.pdf.
 Wang, T. W., Gentzke, A., Sharapova, S., Cullen, K. A., Ambrose, B. K., et al. (2018). Tobacco product use among middle and high school Students — United States, 2011–2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 67(22), 629–633. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6722a3.htm.
 To derive percentages for each racial/ethnic subgroup, data for the specified year and the previous year have been combined to provide more stable estimates. Estimates for white and black youth exclude Hispanic youth and youth of two or more races. Hispanic youth include persons identifying as Mexican American or Chicano, Cuban American, Puerto Rican, or Other Hispanic or Latino, and no other racial/ethnic group.
Child Trends Databank. (2018). Daily cigarette use. Retrieved from: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=daily-cigarette-use