by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The number of teen smokers has fallen to almost negligible levels, according to the latest survey data.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2018 shows just 2.7% of youth aged 12-17 smoked a cigarette in the past month, down from 7.3% in 2017. Marijuana use was flat at 12.5%, despite years of legalization in several states. Binge drinking was also down to 4.7%, from 5.3% the year before.
In years past, such results would’ve garnered a slew of headlines celebrating yet another great advance for public health. But even health reporters now ignore the latest batches of good news on teen smoking.
There are a few obvious reasons for this lack of coverage. The first and most obvious is that nobody cares. Youth smoking has fallen so dramatically in the past decade few consider the issue worth talking about. As the data show, more youth are using weed or drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol than lighting up.
Smoking is also heavily concentrated among poorer and less educated Americans. Cigarettes just aren’t a feature of life for most middle and upper-middle-class parents whose children have close to zero chance of picking up smoking.