America's teen smoking 'epidemic': By the numbers

The Week's Editorial Staff
The Week

Roughly 1 in 4 high school seniors smoke cigarettes, according to an unsettling new federal report

Smoking among young Americans has decreased in recent years, but still, 1,000 teens take up the habit each and every day. According to the first U.S. Surgeon General's office report on youth tobacco use since 1994, 80 percent of smokers are hooked before they're even old enough to buy a pack. "The numbers are really shocking," Surgeon General Regina Benjamin tells USA Today. "It's a problem we have to solve." Here, a look at America's teen smoking "epidemic," by the numbers:

Teens under 18 who tried their first cigarette on a typical day in 2008, the last year for which data is available

Number of those teens who go on to become daily smokers 

Americans who die each day from smoking-related causes

3.6 million
U.S. teens who smoke cigarettes

1 in 4
Ratio of high school seniors who smoke. The rate has fallen since the late '90s, when it was closer to 1 in 3. However, the rate of decline hit a standstill in 2007.

1 in 3
Americans under 26 who smoke

Percentage of adult smokers who began smoking by age 18

Percentage of adult smokers who began smoking by age 26

More than $1 million
Money spent on the marketing and promotion of tobacco products per hour. That's more than $27 million each day.

$10 billion
Amount the tobacco industry spent on cigarette marketing in 2008, a 48 percent increase from a decade earlier

Cost in summer 2011 for a pack of cigarettes in West Virginia, the cheapest state

Cost in summer 2011 for a pack of cigarettes in New York, the most expensive state

1 in 5
Deaths in the United States attributed to tobacco use

Sources: The AwlCBS News, Medpage Today, MSNBC, Surgeon General (PDF), USA Today

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