Ever smoking - ages 15-19

Among youth aged 15-19, 16.4%a reported ever having smoked a whole cigarette in 2017, not significantly different from the 2015 estimate of 18.2%81 (Figure 7.4). Significantly more males (19.0%b) than females (13.6%c) had smoked a whole cigarette.82

The percentage of students who had ever smoked a whole cigarette increased with age in most years between 1999 and 2017. This age gradient appeared to be particularly steep in the most recent years; in 2017, prevalence of ever smoking among 19-year-olds was roughly triple that of 15- and 16-year-olds.

See data table below with 95% confidence intervals.

Download figure 7.4 percentage of youth aged 15-19 who have ever smoked a whole cigarette, by age (.xlsx)

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 2017, the mean age at which ever-smokers age 25 and older had smoked their first cigarette was 16.5d.


95% confidence intervals for in-text estimates

a: 16.4 [14.4-18.3]
b: 19.0 [16.0-21.9]
c: 13.6 [11.1-16.2]
d: 16.5 [16.2-16.7]