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Publication of Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health

The Surgeon General's report Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People(1) was released on February 24, 1994. This report examines various aspects of adolescent behavior and is the first Surgeon General's report to focus exclusively on tobacco use among this age group.

The six major conclusions in the report are

  • Nearly all first use of tobacco occurs before high school graduation; this finding suggests that if adolescents can be kept tobacco-free, most will never start using tobacco.

  • Most adolescent smokers are addicted to nicotine and report that they want to quit but are unable to do so; they experience relapse rates and withdrawal symptoms similar to those reported by adults.

  • Tobacco is often the first drug used by those young people who use alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs.

  • Adolescents with lower levels of school achievement, with fewer skills to resist pervasive influences to use tobacco, with friends who use tobacco, and with lower self images are more likely than their peers to use tobacco.

  • Cigarette advertising appears to increase young people's risk of smoking by affecting their perceptions of the pervasiveness, image, and function of smoking.

  • Communitywide efforts that include tobacco tax increases, enforcement of minors' access laws, youth-oriented mass media campaigns, and school-based tobacco-use prevention programs are successful in reducing adolescent use of tobacco.

Additional information about the report or a free copy of the executive summary is available from CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Mailstop K-50, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724; telephone (800) 232-1311. Copies of the full report (stock no. 017-001-00491-0) can be purchased for $19 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9328; fax (202) 512-2250. The executive summary of the report will be published as an MMWR Recommendations and Reports.


  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing tobacco use among young people: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1994.

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