Smoking is on the rise for young adults aged 18-25, according to
the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse released yesterday
by the Department of Health and Human Services. When asked if
they had smoked at anytime during the last month, 41.6 percent
of respondents in that age group answered yes, up from 40.6
percent in 1997 and 34.6 percent in 1994. "This is a population
that was bombarded by Joe Camel," in their youth, said H.
Westley Clark, director of the center for substance-abuse
treatment at the government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration. Cigarette advertising continues to
follow this age bracket as tobacco companies increasingly focus
advertising and promotion in bars and nightclubs. "We are not
out there to encourage people to smoke," said Jan Smith, a
spokesperson for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc, but instead
to compete for the business of legal "adults who choose to
smoke." William Novelli, president of the Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids, said, "The tobacco industry has turned young
adults into a battleground. They've been fighting like hell to
initiate smoking in that age group."
Overall, 27.7 percent of Americans 12-years-old and above smoked
in 1998, down from 29.6 in 1997. The percentage of smokers in
1998 is the lowest since the survey was first conducted in 1971.
An estimated 4.1 million youths between the ages of 12 and 17,
or 18.2 percent, labeled themselves current smokers. This data
coincides with the finding that 2.1 million people began smoking
cigarettes daily in 1997, with more than half of these new
smokers being under the age of 18. Cigar use also increased
from 5.9 percent in 1997 to 6.9 percent in 1998.
Sources: Gordon Fairclough, "More Young Adults Say They Smoked, A Survey Finds," WALL STREET JOURNAL, August 19, 1999, p. B18; Edward Walsh, "Teenagers' Use Of Drugs Dipped In '98," WASHINGTON POST, August 19, 1999, p. A1; Irvin Molotsky, "Agency Survey Shows Decline Last Year In Drug Use By Young," NEW YORK TIMES, August 19, 1999, p. A15; Aimee Phan, "Survey Seen As 'Turning A Corner,'" USA TODAY, August 19, 1999, p. A1; Aimee Phan, "Alcohol, Tobacco Lure Teens Despite Drug Dip," USA TODAY, August 19, 1999, p. D8.