Reducing youth smoking

Lowering cigarette consumption among young people
Reducing tobacco use by young people

For any credible programme to reduce overall cigarette use it will be necessary to focus centrally on young people.

Developing and implementing actions and enforcement measures to deter young people from starting to smoke, such as setting and enforcing age limits for purchasing tobacco products. Promoting education in schools about tobacco addiction and its effect on health, by making education on tobacco a required part of the school curriculum.


Children are likely to start smoking if they grow up in an environment where tobacco advertising is widespread, where smoking rates among adults are high, where tobacco products are cheap and easily accessible, and where smoking is unrestricted in public places. Educational programmes serve a useful role in tobacco control. However, unless they are backed up by strong public policies which help young people refrain from using tobacco, such programmes have only modest results. Education programmes must therefore be placed in the overall context of strong and coherent tobacco control policies.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, environmental tobacco smoke remains a major public health concern since more than half of American youth continue to be exposed to this known human carcinogen.


The 1998 general agreement between US tobacco manufacturers and state authorities has manufacturers pay fines if underage smoking does not decline. The agreement also places restrictions on tobacco advertising and marketing to youth. The agreement further prohibits youth targeting by tobacco producers in advertising, promotions or marketing and bars industry actions aimed at initiating, maintaining or increasing youth smoking.

By 1999, children and adolescents could not smoke in public before the age of 16 in Germany and in 7 of the 9 provinces of Austria. In Luxembourg, the use of tobacco was banned in schools as well as other premises frequented by youngsters under the age of 16.

Youth smoking
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production