Record Drop in Chicago Youth Smoking Rates

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Officials from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced smoking among Chicago high school students has decreased by more than 20 percent since 2011 and is now the lowest recorded rate in youth smoking. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 11 percent of Chicago high school students reported smoking in 2013, down from more than 13 percent in 2011. This is also a nearly 60 percent decrease from 2001, when roughly a quarter of youth reported smoking.

Studies have shown that e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco are disproportionately used by youth. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students doubled from 2011 to 2012. Moreover, e-cigarette users often smoke conventional cigarettes – 76.5 percent of e-cigarette users also smoke conventional cigarettes. There is also substantial evidence that flavored tobacco products are “starter” products for youth who begin smoking. In fact, kids ages 12 to 17 smoke flavored tobacco at a higher rate than any other age group.

CDPH also reports an increase in the number of calls to the Illinois Tobacco Quit Line from Chicago, indicating increased interest in the cessation program. More than 24,000 calls were reported from Chicago in 2013. During the last six months of the year, there were 14,000 calls from Chicago to the Quitline, double the number of calls reported in the last six months of 2012. This increase in calls coincided with multiple public education campaigns by CDPH around the dangers of tobacco and menthol, directing residents to call the Quitline at 1-866-Quit-Yes. For more information on Healthy Chicago and tobacco prevention and control in Chicago, visit

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