Ever smoking - ages 15-19
Among youth aged 15-19, 18.2% reported ever having smoked a whole cigarette in 2015, not significantly different from the 2013 estimate of 20.2%69 (Figure 7.4). One-fifth (20.2%) of males and 16.1% of females had smoked a whole cigarette, but this difference was not statistically significant.70
The percentage of students who had ever smoked a whole cigarette increased with age in most years between 1999 and 2015. This age gradient appeared to be particularly steep in the most recent years; in 2015, prevalence of ever smoking among 19-year-olds was more than double that of 16- and 17-year-olds, and eight times that of 15-year-olds.
It appears that in addition to fewer youth starting to smoke over time, fewer youth are initiating smoking in their early teens. Rather, youth are continuing to pick up the habit throughout adolescence; in the past few years, more youth smoked their first cigarette after age 15 than earlier. In 2015, the mean age at which ever-smokers age 25 and over smoked their first cigarette was 15.9.