A new Gallup Poll out December 2015 states that “cigarette use among U.S. adults aged 18 to 29” is down, dropping 12 points from 34% to 22% in the past decade. The results for this age group are similar to those in the 30 – 49 and 50 – 64 age group, which is good news. Could it be the positive outcome of anti-smoking efforts for those in this age group are making a difference? There is more to it, according to the Poll.
It appears our young adults are switching up their tobacco game. Data collected from January to October of this year suggests that young adults are using other types of tobacco “well above the averages for all other age groups.” At this point the Poll can’t determine if “young adults’ use of non-cigarette tobacco alternatives has increased over time,” because they just starting asking them to specify the form of tobacco in 2014.
Cigarettes are the go-to choice for tobacco, but smokeless tobacco seems to be the most common alternative across the board, with young adult usage higher than the national average. In fact, the young adult age group is “more likely of all age groups to use smokeless tobacco, to smoke pipes and to smoke cigars.” While 4.1% of the 18-29 year age group may smoke cigars, for example, only 2.4% of the 30-49 year age group go for stogies. Pipe tobacco use is also higher for the young adults, but there could be a simple reason of misunderstanding. In the young age group pipe tobacco could be construed to mean tobacco used in water pipes or hookahs, rather than a traditional tobacco pipe.
Young adults and middle aged tobacco users also share another trait and that is using at least two forms of tobacco. But young adults lead the usage of three or more types of tobacco, almost double the middle aged users and double the national average.
There are several factors for the high numbers of tobacco use for young adults. While older adult tobacco users have more loyalty to their habit, the young adult group is less likely to stick to one product and more open to experimenting with all the alternatives, especially those with flavor. Young adults may have left the high school environment, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t encountering peer pressure from other tobacco users, especially now that they are legal age to purchase and consume tobacco. Those in the young adult category are more likely to have started smoking at a young age. According to the CDC “9 out of 10 cigarette smokers started before turning 18.” Their need for nicotine may be stronger than an older adult. Plus being able to switch products means never having to be without a fix of nicotine, something the young adult brains seem to crave, and a way to get around smoking bans.
Click HERE to read the entire December Gallup Poll used in this blog.