Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Fewer young Americans say they smoke cigarettes: Gallup

Rates of cigarette smoking among young U.S. adults have drastically declined since 2001, new data show.
Person smoking cigarette.
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Story at a glance


  • Despite the decline in traditional cigarette smoking, studies show the prevalence of vaping, or e-cigarette use, is growing among this cohort. 

  • More young adults also report smoking marijuana than cigarettes. 

  • Overall, 4 in 10 young American adults say they smoke at least one of the three substances. 

Rates of cigarette smoking among young Americans have fallen from 35 percent to 12 percent over the past 20 years, according to new results of a Gallup poll. 

The decline among those aged 18 through 29 was also more than double that of any other age group measured and puts young adults as the second least likely age group to smoke cigarettes. The nation’s oldest adults — those over age 65 — are the least likely to smoke cigarettes, with just 8 percent having done so in 2022. 

Since the survey’s start in 2001, young adults smoked cigarettes at higher rates than any other age group through 2012. 

Historically, cigarette smoking has also been closely linked with educational attainment, as young adults with a college degree are much less likely to smoke than those who have not graduated college. 

Data show the decline in cigarette smoking rates has been greater among those who have not graduated college, from 39 percent to 14 percent, than those with a degree, from 17 percent to 7 percent. Similar declines were documented among young men and women alike. 


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The results come on the heels of additional data that show teens are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes younger, and those addictions are becoming more intense. 

Although an average of just 7 percent of U.S. adults reported smoking e-cigarettes between 2019 and 2022, that average was much higher among young adults, at 19 percent, Gallup data show.

“Given these differences, young adults are more likely to vape than to smoke cigarettes, while among older age groups, cigarette smoking prevails,” the report reads. 

However, Gallup only began polling on e-cigarette usage in 2019, meaning it’s unclear to what extent e-cigarette usage has grown among this cohort in recent years, but data from the CDC detail increased prevalence of e-cigarette use from 2011 to 2018 among middle and high school students. 

“These data suggest that much of the decline in cigarette smoking among young adults may have been offset by vaping, indicating that young adults are still smoking products containing nicotine, but through different means,” Gallup authors wrote.

Previous research has shown those who smoke e-cigarettes are unlikely to also smoke tobacco cigarettes

The rise of e-cigarette smoking has been accompanied by an increase in marijuana use among young adults. Between 2013 and 2015, 17 percent of young adults said they smoked marijuana. That total rose to 26 percent from 2019 to 2022.

Currently, more than two times the total of young people who smoke cigarettes say they smoke marijuana, while marijuana is more common among this cohort than vaping.

Overall, 4 in 10 young adults say they smoke at least one of the three substances.