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Updated 2:00 PM January 13, 2004



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Monitoring the Future
Teen smoking continues to drop in 2003, but declines are slowing

Cigarette use among American adolescents has been falling since the mid-1990s, with smoking rates among younger teens dropping by roughly half.

The 2003 results from the Monitoring the Future annual series of nationwide surveys by the Institute for Social Research (ISR) show that declines in teen smoking continued into 2003, though results also show that the rate of decline is slowing appreciably.

Among eighth graders, the prevalence of current smoking (smoking one or more cigarettes in the prior 30 days) fell by only half a percentage point in 2003, and among 10th graders the comparable decline was only one percentage point.

Neither of the declines is statistically significant, and both are the smallest declines observed in these grades over the past four or five years.

Twelfth graders show a statistically significant 2.3 percentage point decline in their rate of current smoking, but investigators believe the drop largely reflects an echo of the declines exhibited earlier when these students were in the lower grades. So far, current smoking has declined since 1997 by one-third among 12th graders. The investigators predict a continuation of the decline at this grade level as the lower-smoking 10th graders from the past two years reach 12th grade.

Lloyd Johnston is the principal investigator; other authors are Patrick O'Malley, Jerald Bachman and John Schulenberg. For more information, visit

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