CDC: Cigarette Smoking Drops in U.S. Adolescents

CDC: Cigarette Smoking Rates Down Among U.S. Adolescents
CDC: Cigarette Smoking Rates Down Among U.S. Adolescents

(HealthDay News) -- Smoking among high school students is at an all-time low: Slightly more than one in 10 high schoolers used cigarettes in 2015, down from more than one in four in 1991, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, the researchers found that the rate of premarital sex is down, as is soda consumption and illegal use of prescription drugs. However, use of electronic cigarettes is up, and distracted driving and sedentary lifestyles continue to be concerns. The survey -- the National Youth Risk and Behavior Survey -- included more than 15,000 high school students. Almost one-quarter of high school students (24 percent) said they'd used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. And 45 percent said they'd tried an e-cigarette at least once in their life.

In just two years -- from 2013 to 2015 -- the number of high school students who had a soda one or more times a day dropped from 27 to 20 percent. Teens are also less likely to be sexually active -- defined as having sexual intercourse during the past three months. In 2015, 30 percent of teens said they were sexually active. In 1991, that figure was 38 percent of teens, according to the report. Fewer high schoolers reported illicit use of a prescription drug one or more times. In 2009, 20 percent of teens had taken prescription drugs without a prescription, compared to 17 percent in 2015.

The news was not as good when it comes to distracted driving. Nationwide, 42 percent of students who had driven a vehicle during the past 30 days said they'd texted or e-mailed while driving. This was the same rate as in 2013. And while sexual activity rates are down, so too is condom use. Among those who are currently sexually active, condom use fell from 63 percent in 2003 to 57 percent in 2015. Adding to that troubling trend is that fewer students are getting tested for HIV. Only one in 10 high schoolers were tested for HIV in 2015, compared to 13 percent in 2011. Finally, the percentage of adolescents who played video or computer games or used a computer three or more hours a day for non-school-related reasons climbed from 22 to 42 percent from 2003 to 2015.

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