Result 1: Improved Health Status for New Mexicans Download Data

P002: Percent of adolescents who smoke


Story Behind the Curve
  • Adolescent smoking is defined as the percentage of high school youth who smoked cigarettes on one or more of the past 30 days and is tracked through a statewide youth health survey every other year. 
  • Nearly 9 out of every 10 adult smokers began smoking cigarettes as an adolescent, making the prevention of youth smoking a public health priority. Cigarette use kills over 2,800 New Mexicans annually and afflicts 84,000 people with tobacco-related diseases.
  • Adolescent smoking has declined significantly over the past decade. After peaking at 30.1% in 2003, the percentage of adolescents who smoke has declined to a historic low of 10.6% in 2017. However, smoking is still much higher among youth who identify as lesbian/gay/bisexual (19%) and youth who earn mostly D's and F's (27%).
  • Current NMDOH efforts for preventing adolescent smoking include youth engagement and leadership training and outreach in schools and communities throughout the state, as well as working with school districts to update their policies to make campuses completely tobacco-free.
  • Existing tobacco prevention efforts are being updated to include the prevention of e-cigarette use, which presents a growing problem with nicotine addiction among youth and young adults.
  • Rescue (The Behavior Change Agency)
  • University of New Mexico
  • New Mexico Public Education Department
  • New Mexico Human Services Department Synar & US Food and Drug Administration Programs
  • Albuquerque Area Southwest Epidemiology Center
  • New Mexico Boys and Girls Club
What Works

The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends the following interventions to reduce adolescent smoking:

  • Increasing the unit price of tobacco products.
  • Mass media campaigns in combination with other interventions.
  • Smoking bans and restrictions, and restricting minors' access to tobacco products, through community mobilization with additional interventions.
  • Implement a statewide youth (18 years and younger) engagement strategy, called Evolvement.
  • Develop specific tobacco counter-marketing campaigns targeting high school youth to prevent tobacco use initiation.
  • Train youth leaders statewide on tobacco control efforts and to develop specific projects within their schools and communities to reach their peers with tobacco counter-marketing messages.
FY18 Annual Progress Summary
  • The percentage of adolescent youth who smoke in New Mexico declined even further, from 11.4% in 2015 to 10.6% in 2017, which is a new all-time low. The landscape of tobacco use among youth has changed dramatically in recent years. There have been substantial declines in cigarette, cigar, and hookah use while spit/chew tobacco use remains stable and e-cigarettes have emerged as a high-use tobacco product. Overall, one in three adolescents uses some form of tobacco.
  • Some of the contributing factors to the continuing decline in adolescent cigarette smoking include the Evolvement youth engagement program and the various tobacco prevention campaigns that it has supported; successes in making school campuses and other public places smoke-free, changing social norms around smoking; and perhaps some youth are foregoing cigarette use for other newer products, such as e-cigarettes. Monitoring use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, will be important in tracking the overall nicotine addiction burden among New Mexico’s youth.
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