Smoking Among Teenagers

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Daniel Homn, Ph.D.

THE SURVEY on which I am reporting was done for the Public Health Service from late December 1967 through early February 1968 by the Chilton Research Services of Philadelphia. The figures are based on telephone interviews conducted as a representative sample of the 85 percent of the U.S. households which have telephone service. These figures are being augmented by personal interviews in households without telephones. Households without telephones tend to be either in rural areas or impoverished sections of the central city. I believe levels of smoking are lower than average in the country and higher than average in the central city. It is, therefore, unlikely that adding the personal interview sample, which is now being carried out, will alter the figures by more than 1 or 2 percentage points. The telephone sample consisted of 4,414 interviews conducted among approximately 315 boys and 315 girls at each single year of age from 12 through 18 (see table). A random selection of teenagers was made from a computer that was fed information on area codes, exchanges, and banks of numbers in use in households throughout the United States. Since any possible number could be selected, even unlisted numbers fall into the sample with their appropriate frequency. Observations The proportion of smokers among teenagers appears to have declined appreciably from levels which have been reported in numerous studies over the past 10 years. Defining "regular" smoking among teenagers as smoking regularly either daily or weekly, one boy in seven and one girl in 12 is so characterized for the entire group between the ages of 12 and 458

18. This frequency varies from only 1.3 percent of the 12-year-old boys and 0.3 percent of the 12year-old girls to 35.5 percent of the 18-yearold boys and 21.3 percent of the 18-year-old girls. In 1957, 34.7 percent of the 17-year-old boys studied in Portland, Oreg. (1), were smoking at this level...
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