Teen Smoking an Epidemic, Says New Study

3 Million High School Students Smoke, Says Office of the Surgeon General

Teen smoking has reached epidemic proportions, according to a new report released by the Office of the Surgeon General on Thursday.

"Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults," is the first report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the issue of youth smoking since 1994.

The study indicates that although a steady decline of young smokers was previously evident, that downward trend has reversed and young Americans are now smoking at epidemic rates.

"Each day in the United States, over 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette," the report reads. 

"Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke," Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said the report. "We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life."

The report found that a vast majority of adult smokers picked up their habit in youth and maintained the habit into adulthood. In fact, 90 percent of adult smokers tried their first cigarette by the age of 18.

"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable and premature death, killing more than 1,200 Americans every day. For every tobacco-related death two new young people under the age of 26 become regular smokers," a press release for the report stated.

The American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids released another startling report on youth and smoking on Monday.

The report, "Deadly Alliance: How Big Tobacco and Convinence Stores Partner to Market Tobacco Products and Fight Life-Saving Policies," details the dangerous ploys behind tobacco marketing campaigns, which increasingly market tobacco products in convenience and retail stores to resemble candy.

The Office of the Surgeon General is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Services and serves the country by "providing Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury," according to its website.