A new study shows that many public health agencies rely too heavily on reports of monthly cigarette use, which indicates the need for a deeper analysis of teen smoking statistics.

A Science Daily news report notes that monthly cigarette use is a broad statistic that makes it difficult to draw conclusions about current habits and historical changes in behavior. Overall, the study calls for a deeper analysis of available data to provide a more complete and accurate picture of trends in teen smoking

In addition, the study also calls for greater attention to e-cigarette and other vaping trends and practices. The statistic used to describe current use of cigarettes among high school seniors is derived from a survey that asks a question about smoking behavior over the past 30 days.

The response to this question indicates a 29% drop in monthly smoking between 1975 and 2013, and the new study calls this a “crude and changing indicator” of smoking frequency and intensity.

The goal of the study, conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP), was to assess how changes in monthly smoking related to changes in daily smoking and heavy smoking in high school seniors over the past 35 years.

The research team analyzed results from the 1973 to 2013 Monitoring the Future Project, which is an ongoing study by University of Michigan researchers of the behavior of young Americans from high school to college.

The results of the study reveal that between 1975 and 2013, monthly smokers who smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day dropped by 57%, and those who said they were daily smokers were 40% less likely to smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day.

Lynn Kozlowski, PhD, states, “We need information on smoking intensity to assess health risk because heavy smoking causes more disease and death than light smoking. Also, non-daily smokers often represent lower-level exposure to carcinogens and can be more likely to quit.”

Kozlowski adds, “Our findings, grounded in a deeper analysis of the data, represent good news and have important implications for tobacco research and monitoring related trends.”

Source: Science Daily