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Drugs & Health Blog

Fewer Teens Are Smoking and Drinking

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
The NIDA Blog Team

The percentage of teens who are smoking and drinking is dropping, and that’s great news for teens’ health!

This year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey results, which were released Dec. 13, show that teens today are less likely than they were in years past to use alcohol and tobacco. For example, only 4.8 percent of high school seniors this year said that they smoked tobacco on a daily basis. That’s way down from 1996, when 22.2 percent of high school seniors said they smoked every day! Since tobacco is the leading preventable cause of disease, this downward trend is great news for teens’ health today and in the future.

MTF 2016 Survey about Teen Cigarette Use

Use of vaping devices (also called e-cigarettes) is also down, with close to 13 percent of teens using them in the past month, compared to more than 16 percent last year. On the other hand, many teens say they aren’t sure what’s in the liquid they’re vaping. (As we’ve noted before, that liquid may contain chemicals that are toxic.)

MTF 2016 Survey About Teen Cigarette and e-Cigarette Use

Teens now are also less likely to drink alcohol. About a third of high school seniors said they’d used alcohol in the past month. That number is still higher than we’d like—alcohol increases the risk of car crashes and injuries, and underage drinking is especially dangerous because teens’ brains are still developing—but it’s better than 20 years ago, when about half of seniors said they had used alcohol in the past month.

MTF 2016 Survey About Alcohol Consumption

For the 2016 MTF survey, funded by NIDA, researchers surveyed 45,473 students from 372 schools. The survey has happened every year since 1975, so it’s a great way for researchers to understand how teen substance use has changed over time.

Thank you to the MTF participants for helping us to learn these facts! You can check out the main NIDA website for the rest of the survey’s findings; they’re described in videos and in more infographics like the ones above.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


How's marijuana use?

Lower than 2015 among 8th graders; about the same for 10th and 12th graders. You can see more stats here:

To drink or smoke or it is used for medication
how were teens able to get cigarettes
Please put more stuff of smoking.
Thank you for sharing some informative information to everyone. We all know that all over the world, teens become more aggressive in the way that they are using drugs and then marijuana and with the age of 14 they are starting to have some cigarette. Hope every people especially teens will see your blog.
What are the reasons for the droppings?

That is an excellent question. Researchers are trying to determine that now. Here are some possible ideas: With the internet, teens can research the real effects of drugs. But there is a flip side to that: there is also a lot of incorrect information about drugs on the Internet. Another theory: Instead of judging teens, organizations like NIDA have been working very hard in recent years to give teens information on drugs that are based on scientific facts, and we think teens appreciate that. Also, teens are busy with their cell phones and video games and might be less interested in using drugs for entertainment. We will let you know what we find out. It is important to note that while teens are smarter about drugs now, the rates are still high among adults. So once teens leave their homes, they seem to be more interested in drugs. What are your theories?

To hear that kids are drinking less is a good thing. I grew up in the 80s & 90s and in a heavy drinking culture in the UK. It was normal to drink heavily. I've since given up drinking, and stopped 10 years ago. I've got kids now, and I hope they don't feel the same pressures I did at 16. I wrote a blog about the 5 steps I found helped me give up drinking, and it also helped to keep me going when doubts and insecurities might have once tripped me up.
Why did they start smoking or drinking alcohol in the first place?

Good question! The specific answer may differ from person to person. Some common reasons are that people think they will feel good, forget their problems, perform better, or fit in. Learn more: and

That's great I think this is caused for the information out there for teen's and that's why the numbers have dropped please keep doing this education :)
I think it is good that people are not smoking and drinking as much.

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