Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

CDC Survey: Teen smoking down, but other risky behaviors remain

by Michelle Lanz | Take Two®

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Photocapy/Flickr Creative Commons

Whether it's drinking too much sugary soda or secretly smoking cigarettes, there are plenty of vices that teens like to experiment with. 

However, a new survey by the Center for Disease Control shows today's teens are making healthier choices than they did back in 1991, at least when it comes to certain behaviors. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) gleaned answers anonymously from more than 13,000 teens from public and private high schools throughout the United States. 

Among the findings are that teens are smoking much less today than they were in 1991. Today, only 15.7 percent of teens said they regularly smoke tobacco products, down from 27.5 percent in 1991 and the peak of 36.4 percent in 1997. This number also means the U.S. has already met its "Healthy People 2020" goal of lowering the smoking rate to 16 percent by 2020.

Other notable statistics from the survey include: 

Texting While Driving: 

  • The percentage of high school students who texted or e-mailed while driving ranged from 32 percent to 61 percent across 37 states and from 19 percent to 43 percent across 15 large urban school districts. 
  • Nationwide, 41 percent of students who had driven a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days reported texting or emailing while driving. 

Teen Sex:

  • The percentage of high school students who are currently sexually active has declined from 38 percent in 1991 to 34 percent in 2013. 
  • 59 percent of high school students say they use condoms, down from 63 percent in 2003.

Physical Fights:

  • High school students who had been in a physical fight at least once during the past 12 months decreased from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2013. 
  • Fights on school property have been cut in half during the past 20 years. Just 8 percent of high school students reported fighting on school property in 2013 compared to 16 percent in 1993.

Dr. Stephanie Zaza, director of the CDC's division of adolescent and school health, joins Take Two to talk about some of the findings. 



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