Almost 23 percent of high school students use tobacco products, and more than 90 percent of those students smoke cigarettes, cigars, hookahs or pipes, a new government study finds.
"Nine out of ten smokers tried their first cigarette by age 18," Dr. Tim McAfee, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health, said in an agency news release. "We must do more to prevent our youth from using tobacco products, or we will see millions of them suffer and die prematurely as adults."
The study found 46 percent of high school students and almost 18 percent of middle school students said they had at least tried a tobacco product, HealthDay reports.
The CDC found more than 12 percent of high school students say they use two or more tobacco products. About 75 percent of high school smokers will continue smoking into adulthood, the CDC estimates.
A report by the U.S. Surgeon General released earlier this year warned smoking is a causal factor in 10 diseases and conditions that were not previously definitively linked to cigarettes, including diabetes, arthritis, colorectal cancer and erectile dysfunction. Smoking already has been linked by the Surgeon General to conditions including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and asthma.
In total, smoking is linked to more than 30 diseases and conditions, the report concluded. Cigarette smoking contributes to the death of 480,000 Americans each year, a substantial increase over the previous estimate of 443,000 deaths.
The increase in smoking-related deaths has occurred at a time when fewer people are smoking, and those who are smoking do so less often, the article notes. Women are as likely as men to die from smoking-related diseases.