Why Don't Youth Quit Smoking?

Finding answers to design effective smoking cessation programs

Gary A. Giovino, PhD, at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Dianne C. Barker, MHS, at Barker Bi-Coastal Health Consultants, surveyed a nationally representative cohort of 2,582 smokers ages 16 to 24 for a period of two years.

Their study, Assessing Youth Smoking Cessation Needs and Practices, provides insights into whether these young smokers tried to quit, the methods they used in trying to quit and factors that would predict their quitting patterns and success rates.

Key Findings

  • “These adolescents considered addiction to cigarettes real, powerful, stealthy, insidious, harmful, and avoidable. They considered quitting smoking achievable and desirable,” according to a report of focus groups with youth conducted as part of the project.

  • Nearly 12 percent of smokers ages 17 to 26 said they smoked a flavored brand, compared with 6.7 percent of people in a survey (the national Assessing Hardcore Smoking Survey) of adult smokers age 25 and older. The youngest smokers were most likely to use the flavored brands: 22.8 percent of 17-year-olds and 21.7 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds.

    Some 38 state attorneys general used this finding to pressure tobacco companies into stopping the sale of flavored brands, according to Gary Giovino, the project director. In October 2006, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company agreed to end the sale of candy-, fruit- and alcohol-flavored cigarettes.

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