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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Projected Smoking-Related Deaths Among U.S. Youth: A 2000 Update


This paper projects the long term consequences of the rise in youth smoking in the

1990s by updating the state estimates for projected smoking-related deaths among youth

in the U.S. using information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

(BRFSS) 2000 and the U.S. Census 2000. This analysis is similar to that from an earlier

study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office on

Smoking and Health (MMWR, 45[44], November 8, 1996). The 1996 analysis used

young adult smoking prevalence data from 1994 and 1995; whereas, the analysis

presented here represents smoking prevalence data from 2000. The overall number of

potential future smoking-attributable deaths among persons aged 0-17 years in 2000 was

6,407,119 for the U.S., up from an estimated 5 million in 1995.

Compared with the 1995 estimates, every state except Arizona shows increases in

projected smoking-related deaths among youth for 2000. This upsurge is attributable to

both increases in smoking prevalence among young adults and population aged 0-17

years from 1995 to 2000. The increase in smoking prevalence among young adults was

statistically significant in nine states including Alabama, District of Columbia, Iowa,

Kentucky, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Vermont.

With increasing attention and funding for comprehensive, research-based tobacco

control programs in the U.S., one would expect smoking rates to decline over time,

resulting in a reduction in projected smoking-related deaths among youth. The analysis

reported here does not yet reflect this trend. This study clearly demonstrates that based

on recent smoking patterns, there will continue to be a huge public health toll from

tobacco. The results from this new analysis will be useful to states as they determine the

overall public health benefits from increasing the state excise tax and consider funding

for comprehensive tobacco control programs.

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