The Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance


Youth Cessation

Despite significant progress and much attention toward preventing youth tobacco use, more than 3,000 young people still become regular smokers each day. Therefore, to truly combat the toll of tobacco in Colorado it is essential that we focus our efforts and attention not only on prevention, but also on helping youth smokers quit.

  • Smoking is a youth problem: Almost 90% of adult smokers began at or before age 18.(1)
  • Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, most report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so.
  • Approximately two-thirds of adolescent smokers report they want to quit, and 70% say they would not have started if they could choose again.(2)
  • Adolescents tend to underestimate the addictive nature of addiction to tobacco. Over 90% believe that they will quit smoking before adulthood. However, it is estimated that only 1.5% of U.S. teens quit successfully.(3)
  • Currently there are no guidelines or standards that solely address the problem of helping adolescents stop using tobacco. However, in places where aggressive comprehensive programs are in place, reductions in smoking have been seen.
  • In spite of the rise in teen tobacco use, tobacco use cessation for young people is not given the same priority as for adults.
  • Smoking behavior among adolescents and adults differs in many ways, such as quantity of tobacco consumed and the length of exposure. However, with the exception of a few programs, most current youth cessation interventions have been adopted from adult programs.(4)

Estimated costs attributable to secondhand smoke are $180 million for direct medical expenditures and $19 million for loss of life.(5)Resources:

(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Recent Trends in Adolescent Smoking, Smoking-Uptake Correlates, and Expectations about the Future.” Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics of the CDC/NCHS. 1992

(2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General.” Atlanta, GA. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1994.

(3)George H. Gallup International Institute, “Teenage Attitudes and behavior concerning tobacco: Report of the findings.” Princeton, New Jersey, 1992.

(4) Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP). “Tobacco Use Cessation and Youth: Why Tobacco Cessation For Youth?” Issue Brief. August, 1999.