Nearly all tobacco use begins in youth and young adulthood. Nine out of 10 smokers start before age 18 and 99 percent start before age 26.
Youth smoking rates in Washington State have significantly decreased, but more work needs to be done. More than 28,000 youth (8th to 12th grade) in Washington currently smoke cigarettes and about 2,800 youth under age 18 become daily smokers each year. It's estimated that 104,000 youth alive today will die early from a disease caused by smoking.
The high rate of use of electronic cigarettes and vapor products—approximately 13 percent among 10th grade youth in 2016—is also concerning.
There are proven ways to prevent youth from using tobacco and avoid a lifetime of addiction, including:
- Laws that reduce the ability of youth to get tobacco.
- Taxes that increase the cost of tobacco
- School policies about tobacco use
- Regulations about tobacco advertising
- Strong tobacco-free role models
- Family expectations and communication
- Education about the risks and consequences of using tobacco
- Media messages that counter tobacco advertising