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Long-term trends in adolescent and young adult smoking in the United States: Metapatterns and implications

Publication Abstract

Nelson, D.E., P. Mowery, K. Asman, L.L. Pederson, Patrick M. O'Malley, A. Malarcher, E.W. Mabach, and T.F. Pechacek. 2008. "Long-term trends in adolescent and young adult smoking in the United States: Metapatterns and implications." American Journal of Public Health, 98(5): 905-915.

Objectives. We sought to describe long-term adolescent and young adult smoking trends and patterns. Methods. We analyzed adolescent data from Monitoring the Future, 1976 to 2005, and young adult (aged 18-24 years) data from the National Health Interview Survey, 1974 to 2005, overall and in subpopulations to identify trends in current cigarette smoking prevalence. Results. Five metapatterns emerged: we found (1) a large increase and subsequent decrease in overall smoking over the past 15 years, (2) a steep decline in smoking among Blacks through the early 1990s, (3) a gender gap reversal among older adolescents and young adults who smoked over the past 15 years, (4) similar trends in smoking for most subgroups since the early 1990s, and (5) a large decline in smoking among young adults with less than a high school education. Conclusions. Long-term patterns for adolescent and young adult cigarette smoking were decidedly nonlinear, and we found evidence of a cohort effect among young adults. Continued strong efforts and a long-term societal commitment to tobacco use prevention are needed, given the unprecedented declines in smoking among most subpopulations since the mid- to late 1990s.

DOI:10.2105/ajph.2007.115931 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC2374818. (Pub Med Central)

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