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HHS HealthBeat (January 17, 2014)

Starting smoking young

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

You’re not supposed to be able to buy cigarettes until you’re an adult. But that doesn’t stop many teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks cigarette use. Researcher Rene Arrazola:

“We’re seeing smoking start as early as middle school. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18.”

And he says teenagers are branching out – it’s not just standard cigarettes anymore:

"We have seen an increase in the use of electronic cigarettes among middle school and high school age kids."

Also, he says, teenagers are using waterpipes, or hookahs – and cigars, notably in a new category of cigars that look like cigarettes but are cheaper and are flavored like fruit or candy.

A review of teen smoking is in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Learn more at

HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: January 17, 2014