Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults : a report of the Surgeon General; Executive summary
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Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults : a report of the Surgeon General; Executive summary

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  • Alternative Title:
    Report of the Surgeon General
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    "Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood. These young individuals progress from smoking occasionally to smoking every day. Each day across the United States over 3,800 youth under 18 years of age start smoking. Although much progress has been made to reduce the prevalence of smoking since the first Surgeon General's report in 1964, today nearly one in four high school seniors and one in three young adults under age 26 smoke. Of every three young smokers, only one will quit, and one of those remaining smokers will die from tobacco-related causes. Most of these young people never considered the long-term health consequences associated with tobacco use when they started smoking; and nicotine, a highly addictive drug, causes many to continue smoking well into adulthood, often with deadly consequences. This Surgeon General's report examines in detail the epidemiology, health effects, and causes of tobacco use among youth ages 12 through 17 and young adults ages 18 through 25. For the first time tobacco data on young adults as a discrete population has been explored. This is because nearly all tobacco use begins in youth and young adulthood, and because young adults are a prime target for tobacco advertising and marketing activities. This report also highlights the efficacy of strategies to prevent young people from using tobacco. After years of steady decrease following the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998, declines in youth tobacco use have slowed for cigarette smoking and stalled for use of smokeless tobacco. The latest research shows that concurrent use of multiple tobacco products is common among young people, and suggest that smokeless tobacco use is increasing among White males. An important element of this Surgeon General's report is the review of the health conse-quences of tobacco use by young people. Cigarette smoking by youth and young adults is proven to cause serious and potentially deadly health effects immediately and into adulthood. One of the most significant health effects is addiction to nicotine that keeps young people smoking longer, causing increased physical damage. Early abdominal aortic atherosclerosis has been found in young smokers which affects the flow of blood to vital organs such as the lungs. This leads to reduced lung growth that can increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease later in life, and reduced lung function. This report examines the social, environmental, advertising, and marketing influences that encourage youth and young adults to initiate and sustain tobacco use. Tobacco products are among the most heavily marketed consumer goods in the U.S. Much of the nearly $10 billion spent on marketing cigarettes each year goes to programs that reduce prices and make cigarettes more affordable; smokeless tobacco products are similarly promoted. Peer influences; imagery and messages that portray tobacco use as a desirable activity; and environmental cues, including those in both traditional and emerging media platforms, all encourage young people to use tobacco. These influences help attract youth to tobacco use and reinforce the perception that smoking and various forms of tobacco use are a social norm--a particularly strong message during adolescence and young adulthood. Many initiatives have been put into place to help counter the influences that encourage young people to begin tobacco use. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 curtailed much of the advertising that was particularly appealing to young people. With the passage of the 2009 legislation giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products and tobacco advertising, we now have another important means of helping decrease the appeal of tobacco use to this population. Coordinated, multi-component interventions that include mass media campaigns, comprehensive community programs, comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs, price increases, and school-based policies have also proven effective in preventing onset and use of tobacco use among youth and young adults." - p. iii
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    Includes bibliographical references (p. 8-11).
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