Smoking and Drinking: Trends and Perceptions

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Tobacco and alcohol use rank among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, tracks usage statistics of alcohol and tobacco. It also surveys people's perceptions of the risks of heavy tobacco and alcohol use.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, young adults—18-25-year-olds—are the biggest users of tobacco and alcohol. The good news is that reported usage among children—ages 12 to 17—has decreased significantly from 2011 to 2016.  Here's a closer look at the data:

 

In 2016, about 24% of Americans reported using tobacco in the past month.

In 2011, roughly 27% of Americans reported tobacco use in the past month. The decline in tobacco use is not evenly distributed among age groups: young adults saw the most significant decline.

Roughly 51% of Americans (12 and over) reported alcohol use in the past month.

Between 2011 and 2016, alcohol consumption decreased for both 12-17 and 18-25 year olds, while there was no significant change for 26+ year olds.

Attitudes toward the risks of heavy tobacco and alcohol use also vary by age.

 
 

About the Data
State- and national-level survey data for tobacco and alcohol use and perception of risk is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAHMSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Significant changes (95% confidence) in tobacco product and alcohol use between 2011 and 2016 were detected by modeling the usage data as linear regressions and testing for significantly non-zero slopes.