Fact Sheet on Young Women and Smoking
New data from the American Legacy Foundation surveys shows that, despite recent declines in tobacco use nationwide, a quarter of young women (16-24 years old) are smokers. Perhaps more alarming, although 83% said they believe they can quit smoking, and 60
The majority of data included in this fact sheet comes from two landmark, nationally-representative surveys conducted by the American Legacy Foundation: the Legacy Media Tracking Survey (LMTS) and the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).
The LMTS is a telephone survey of young people ages 12 to 24. The survey is used to measure youth awareness of Legacyâ€™s truthÂ® campaign and of other pro- and anti-tobacco messages. Youth are also asked about their tobacco-related beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. The estimates presented in this document are preliminary data collected from July 2002 through January 2003, from a total sample of 6,572 youth.
The NYTS is an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire, administered to 35,828 middle and high school students nationwide in the spring of 2000. The survey was developed to measure the tobacco-related beliefs, attitudes and behavior of youth, and the pro- and anti-tobacco influences to which they are exposed. The findings presented here are from the latest First Look Report: Youth Tobacco Cessation: Results from the 2000 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
This new information about smoking cessation among young women is the first of its kind. These new findings clearly indicate that while prevention remains a critical priority among young people, greater attention is needed in the area of cessation programs designed especially for young smokers who want to quit.
ONE QUARTER OF YOUNG WOMEN SMOKE, PUTTING THEMSELVES AT RISK OF ADDICTION AND CANCER AS ADULTS (LMTS AND NYTS DATA)
New data from the American Legacy Foundation Media Tracking Survey (LMTS) shows that in 2002, 25% of young women age 16-24 smoke.
90% of all adult smokers began smoking before they were 19 years old, which means that todayâ€™s young smokers are going to be tomorrowâ€™s adult smokers.
MAJORITY OF YOUNG, FEMALE SMOKERS THINK ABOUT QUITTINGâ€”MANY TRY BUT LESS THAN THREE PERCENT SUCCEED (LMTS DATA)
Many young women (16-24) are considering quitting smoking in the near future. In 2002, 65% said they were thinking of quitting within six months.
Seventy percent (70%) of young women age 16-18 and 63% of those age 19-24 report that they are thinking of quitting within the next six months. Seventy-three percent (73%) of African American women, 67% of white women, 58% of Hispanic women are thinking of quitting within the next six months.
In 2002, 83% of young women 16-24 believed they would be able to quit if they wanted to.
Eighty-nine percent (89%) of women age 16-18 believe they are able to quit smoking if they want, while 80% of women age 19-24 believe they could quit. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of African American women 16-24 believe they could quit smoking if they want to, compared with 84% of Hispanic women and 80% of white women.
In 2002, 60% of women smokers age 16-24 tried to quit (70% of 16-18 year olds and 54% of 19-24 year olds).
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of young African American women, 59% of white women and 51% of young Hispanic women tried to quit at least once during the past year.
Twenty-five percent (25%) of young women smokers succeeded for more than a week but less than one month and 28% quit for one to six months. 6% succeeded in not smoking for more than six months, but relapsed before the end of the year.
Among young women who tried to quit in the previous year, only three percent succeeded in quitting for at least a year.
GIRLS ARE MORE LIKELY THAN BOYS TO TRY TO QUIT SMOKING, THOUGH BOYS ARE MORE LIKELY TO SUCCEED (NYTS AND OTHER DATA)
New research based on data from the American Legacy Foundationâ€™s 2000 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) indicates that girls age 12 to 19 are more likely than boys to attempt to quit smoking.
Girls who smoke are more likely than boys (31% v. 24%) to report that they tried to cut down or stop smoking cigarettes but were not able to do so.
Boys were more likely than girls to report that they had quit smoking more than one year previously (37% v. 26%).
There is some evidence that girls develop symptoms of nicotine dependence more quickly than boys. About half the girls one study showed symptoms of dependence within a month of smoking initiation.
YOUNG WOMENâ€”BOTH SMOKERS AND NON-SMOKERSâ€”DISAPPROVE OF THEIR PEERSâ€™ SMOKING, FIND SMOKERS UNATTRACTIVE AND WANT TO HELP GET RID OF SMOKING (LMTS DATA)
The majority of young womenâ€”smokers and non-smokers alikeâ€”(62%) believe that people their age who smoke are less attractive. Among 16-18 year olds, 65% agree and among 19-24 year olds, 59% agree. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Hispanic women 16-24, 61% of white women and 59% of African American women agree that people who smoke are less attractive.
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of all young women 16-24 disapprove of people their age smoking. Sixty-four percent (64%) of women 16-18 and 54% of women 19-24 disapprove of peersâ€™ smoking. Among all women 16-24, 69% of African American, 62% of Hispanic and 56% of white women disapprove of smoking by their peers.
Most young women 16-24 (63%) say they want to be involved in efforts to get rid of smoking. Seventy-one percent (71%) of 16-18 year olds and 57% of 19-24 year olds say they want to be involved in such efforts. Among Hispanic women 16-24, 75% want to be involved in efforts to get rid of smoking, compared with 68% of African American women and 58% of white women.
PEERS AND ENVIRONMENT ARE IMPORTANT FACTORS (LMTS AND NYTS DATA)
These data confirm findings from other studies, which show that smokers have more friends that smoke. Among young women 16-24, non-smokers report having one friend who smokes, while smokers have an average of about three friends who smoke.
Current smokers are more likely than former smokers to be exposed to smoking in their home or in a car. Because parental smoking influences youth smoking behavior, and most secondhand smoke exposure is from parents, this suggests that youth whose parents donâ€™t smoke are more likely to successfully quit smoking.
YOUNG SMOKERS RARELY USE PROVEN CESSATION METHODS (NYTS DATA)
It is rare for high school age young people to make use of school or community programs, telephone cessation services or nicotine replacement therapy.
Other Research About Women and Smoking
SMOKING CONTINUES TO BE THE FOREMOST KILLER OF U.S WOMEN
Smoking is the primary cause of death among women in the U.S. About 178,000 American women will die from tobaccorelated disease this year.
Smoking is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
The number of women who die of smoking-attributable cancer is increasing.
Although smoking is declining among both men and women in the U.S., declines are greater among men than women. Since 1970, smoking rates among women have declined by about 30%, compared to a 40% decline among men.
SMOKING DURING ADOLESCENCE IS ESPECIALLY DAMAGING TO HEALTH
Smoking during adolescence reduces lung function and causes respiratory illness.
A recent study indicates that for some women smoking during adolescence increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
Smoking during adolescence is associated with increased risk for serious tobacco-related disease later in life.
YOUNG WOMEN CAN ADD YEARS TO THEIR LIVES BY QUITTING
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Women who die of a smoking-related disease lose, on average, 14.5 years of potential life.
BY SUPPORTING ONE ANOTHER, WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO QUIT
Women rate the importance of social support for quitting more highly than men.
Women are more likely than men to join smoking cessation groups, and they place more importance on emotional support for their quit attempt.
When people have social support for their quit attempt, they are 50% more likely to succeed.
Research indicates that for women, the impact of social support may be even greater.
JOIN THE CIRCLE
As of 2000, more than 19 million women in the U.S. have conquered nicotine addiction and successfully quit smoking.