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Result 1: Improved health status for New Mexicans

P002: Percent of adolescents who smoke

Current Value




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Story Behind the Curve

  • Adolescent smoking is defined as the percentage of high school youth who smoked cigarettes on one or more of the past 30 days and is tracked through a statewide youth health survey every other year.
  • Nearly 9 out of every 10 adult smokers began smoking cigarettes as an adolescent, making the prevention of youth smoking a public health priority. Cigarette use kills 2,600 New Mexicans annually and causes tobacco-related diseases in 78,000 people.
  • Adolescent smoking has declined significantly over the past decade, peaking at 30.1% in 2003 and down to a historic low of 11.4% in 2015. However, smoking is significantly higher among youth who identify as lesbian/gay/bisexual (25.0%) and youth who earn mostly D's and F's (31.0%).
  • During FY17, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) worked with the Public Education Department to plan the 2017 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (YRRS), which includes cigarette use questions. The 2017 YRRS will be in the field in high schools statewide in Fall 2017, with new adolescent cigarette smoking data expected in early 2018.
  • Current NMDOH efforts for preventing adolescent smoking include youth engagement and leadership training and outreach in schools and communities throughout the state.


  • NMDOH Epidemiology and Response Division
  • Rescue (The Behavior Change Agency)
  • University of New Mexico
  • NM Public Education Department
  • The Food and Drug Administration & NM Human Services Department Synar Programs
  • Albuquerque Area Southwest Epidemiology Center

What Works

The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends the following interventions to reduce adolescent smoking:

  • Increasing the unit price of tobacco products.
  • Mass media campaigns in combination with other interventions.
  • Smoking bans and restrictions, and restricting minors' access to tobacco products through community mobilization with additional interventions.


  • Implement a statewide youth (18 years and younger) engagement strategy, called Evolvement.
  • Develop specific tobacco counter-marketing campaigns targeting high school youth to prevent tobacco use initiation.
  • Youth leaders statewide will be trained on tobacco control efforts and will develop specific projects within their schools and communities to reach their peers with tobacco counter-marketing messages.

FY17 Annual Progress Summary

  • The latest New Mexico adolescent smoking rate (2015) of 11.4% is similar to the US rate of 10.8%. In addition, the 2015 smoking rate for New Mexico is a better result than the original NM target of 13.5%. Updated data will be available in early 2018, which will show whether this downward trend in adolescent smoking is continuing.
  • In FY17, the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program and Rescue, who oversees Evolvement program activities, recruited 15 high schools, increasing their geographic footprint into all four quadrants of the state. Over 350 students were trained on youth engagement strategies, which resulted in implementation of a variety of school- and community-based tobacco prevention projects in communities statewide. Evolvement youth specifically supported the 24/7 campaign, which aims to improve tobacco-free school environments through adoption of comprehensive tobacco-free policies.
  • The 24/7 campaign was fully revamped in mid-FY17 and included a new and improved website complete with a toolkit of resources to help schools understand, adopt, implement, and enforce comprehensive tobacco-free policies. Twenty-five school-based 24/7 campaign events were held statewide (23 counties) to support communication of tobacco-free policies to students, staff, and visitors at participating schools.

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