• Initiation of Cigarette Use among Persons Aged 12 or Older

    Information on tobacco substance use initiation (also known as incidence or first-time use) is an important measure for policy makers and researchers.  It can provide valuable information that can be used to assess the effectiveness of current prevention programs and to focus prevention efforts.

    The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted a survey in 2011 regarding the initiation of substance use encompassing the number and rate of the recent or past year initiation of tobacco use among the total population aged 12 or older and by selected age and gender categories.

    The following lists the key information:

    • The number of persons aged 12 or older who smoked cigarettes for the first time within the past 12 months was 2.4 million in 2011, which was the same as the estimate in 2010, but was higher than the estimates for 2002 (1.9 million), 2003 (2 million), and 2004 (2.1 million).
    • The 2011 estimate averages out to approximately 6,600 new cigarette smokers every day. The majority of new cigarette smokers in 2011 initiated prior to age 18 (55.7%).

    The figure below demonstrates the past year cigarette initiates among persons aged 12 or older, by age at first use from 2002 to 2011:

    figure 5.7

    • In 2002 and 2011, the numbers of cigarette initiates who were under age 18 when they first used were the same (1.3 million). However, the number of cigarette initiates who began smoking at age 18 or older increased from 623,000 in 2002 to 1.1 million in 2011.
    • In 2011, among recent initiates aged 12 to 49, the average age of first cigarette use was 17.2 years, which was similar to the average in 2010 at 17.3 years.
    • Of those aged 12 or older who had not smoked cigarettes prior to the past year (i.e., those at risk for initiation), the past year initiation rate for cigarettes was 2.4% in 2011, which was similar to the rate in 2010 at 2.6%.
    • Among youths aged 12 to 17 who had not smoked cigarettes prior to the past year, the incidence rate in 2011 was 5.5%, which was similar to the 2010 rate of 5.9%.
    • Among males aged 12 to 17 who had never smoked prior to the past year, past year initiation rates in 2002 to 2010 were not significantly different from the rate in 2011. However, the past year initiation rate among females aged 12 to 17 who were at risk for initiation was lower in 2011 at 5.5% than in 2002 to 2006 or in 2008.

    The figure below demonstrates the past year cigarette initiation among youths aged 12 to 17 who had never smoked prior to the past year, by gender from 2002 to 2011:

    figure 5.8

    Source:  http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2011SummNatFindDetTables/Index.aspx

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