Preventing Youth Tobacco Use

Three teen girls talking at schoolRisk and Protective Factors

Many factors affect kids’ use or abuse of tobacco.1 These include social and policy issues, such as how laws are enforced. Pricing, advertising, and community norms also play a part. Parents can’t do anything about these things, but they can support good policies and regulations.

In addition, families play important roles. We can make a difference by reducing risks and enhancing key protective factors, or strengths.

Risk Factors for Youth Tobacco Use2

Young people are MORE likely to use tobacco products when . . .

  • Prices are low, tobacco is easy to get, and social norms encourage tobacco use.

  • Parents or other family members smoke or use other nicotine products.

  • There is a family history of tobacco use (genetics).

  • Their friends smoke.

  • Youth think “all” their friends use tobacco.

  • They use alcohol or other drugs.

  • Youth believe using tobacco has benefits (like relaxing) and is safe.

Protective Factors for Tobacco Use3

Young people are LESS likely to use tobacco products when . . .

  • They do well in school and are involved in other activities.

  • Parents disapprove of tobacco use.

  • Relationships with parents include a balance of expressing care, providing support, and challenging growth.

  • Friends are substance free.

  • Youth have internal self-control and strengths to resist peer pressure.

Next Steps

  • Take the quiz to see ways to address alcohol and tobacco use in your family.
  • Learn about other resources on preventing youth alcohol and tobacco use.

Research Sources

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health

3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.