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Latest CDC teen behavior survey finds less cigarette smoking, fewer fights, too much texting and driving

CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors a wide range of priority health risk behaviors among representative samples of high school students at the national, state, and local levels.

National, state, and large urban school district surveys are conducted every two years among high school students throughout the United States. The 2013 YRBSS report includes National YRBS data and data from surveys conducted in 42 states and 21 large urban school districts.

Key findings from the 2013 YRBSS:

  • Cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped to 15.7 percent, meeting the Healthy People 2020 objective of reducing adolescent cigarette use to 16 percent or less.
  • The percentage of high school students nationwide who had been in a physical fight at least once during the past 12 months decreased from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2013.
  • Fights on school property have been cut in half during the past 20 years, from 16 percent in 1993 to 8 percent in 2013.
  • Nationwide, 41 percent of students who had driven a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days reported texting or emailing while driving.
  • The percentage of high school students who are currently sexually active has declined from 38 percent in 1991 to 34 percent in 2013.
  • Among the high school students who are currently sexually active, condom use also has declined from 63 percent in 2003 to 59 percent in 2013.

The report also indicates varied trends in obesity-related behaviors in recent years, such as excessive screen time (TV/computer use) and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like soda. The full report can be found at

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286


Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

“It’s encouraging that high school students are making better health choices such as not fighting, not smoking, and not having sex,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Way too many young people still smoke and other areas such as texting while driving remain a challenge. Our youth are our future. We need to invest in programs that help them make healthy choices so they live long, healthy lives."

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Stephanie Zaza, MD, MPH

“This YRBS report clearly shows that fewer teens are engaging in some important health risk behaviors. Health behaviors like cigarette smoking are decreasing. But other risk behaviors, like not using condoms and excessive computer use, are increasing. We must work together to curb these dangerous behaviors before they become life-long habits that put our youth’s health and safety at risk."

Stephanie Zaza, MD, MPH - Director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health

Laura Kann, PhD

“The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is an important tool for understanding how health risk behaviors among youth vary across the nation and over time. We can use these data to help schools, communities, families, and students reduce youth risk behaviors that are still prevalent and to monitor those that are newly emerging."

Laura Kann, PhD - Chief of CDC’s School-Based Surveillance Branch

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