Tobacco Use and United States Students

What is the problem?

The 2017 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates that among U.S. high school students:

Sexual Risk Behaviors
  • 39.5% ever had sexual intercourse.
  • 3.4% had sexual intercourse for the first time before age 13 years.
  • 9.7% had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life.
  • 28.7% were currently sexually active. 1
  • 46.2% did not use a condom during last sexual intercourse. 2
  • 9.3% were ever tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 3
Alcohol and Other Drug Use
  • 18.8% drank alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse. 2
  • 1.5% ever injected any illegal drug. 4

What are the solutions?

  • Better health education
  • More comprehensive health services
  • More supportive environments

What is the status?

The School Health Policies and Practices Study 2014 indicates that among U.S. high schools:

Health Education

  • 85% required students to receive instruction on tobacco-use prevention.
  • 61% provided students with the opportunity to practice communication, decision-making, goal-setting, or refusal skills related to tobacco use prevention in a required health education course.

Family and Community Involvement

  • 27% had a school health council that addressed tobacco-use prevention.
  • 14% involved students’ families and 23% involved community members in the development, communication, and implementation of policies or activities related to tobacco-use prevention.
  • 25% had or participated in a youth empowerment or advocacy program related to tobacco-use prevention.

School Environment

  • 74% prohibited all tobacco use in all locations. 4
  • 90% prohibited all tobacco advertising. 5
  • 72% posted signs marking a tobacco-free school zone.

Health Services

  • 44% provided tobacco-use prevention services at school in one-on-one or small-group sessions.
  • 31% provided tobacco-use prevention services to students through arrangements with providers not located on school property.
  • 39% provided tobacco-use cessation services at school.
  • 22% provided tobacco-use cessation services to students through arrangements with providers not located on school property.
  1. Even one or two puffs.
  2. Not counting any electronic vapor products.
  3. Including e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pipes, vaping pens, e-hookahs, and hookah pens.>
  4. Prohibited all tobacco use by students, faculty and school staff, and visitors; in school buildings, outside on school grounds (including parking lots and playing fields), on school buses or other vehicles used to transport students, and at off-campus, school-sponsored events.
  5. Prohibited tobacco advertising in school buildings, on school grounds, on school buses or other vehicles, at off-campus, school-sponsored events, and through sponsorship of school events, and prohibited students from wearing tobacco brand name apparel or carrying merchandise with tobacco company names, logos, or cartoon characters.