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Tobacco Use - Youth Smoking Prevalence

Summary Indicator Report Data View Options

Youth Cigarette Smoking Prevalence by County, Grades 9-12, New Mexico, 2019

Youth Cigarette Smoking Prevalence by Urban and Rural Counties, Grades 9-12, New Mexico, 2019

Youth Cigarette Smoking Prevalence by U.S. States, 2019

Why Is This Important?

Nicotine exposure in any form among youth and young adults can disrupt growth of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction to other drugs (e.g., cocaine and methamphetamine.) Effects of nicotine exposure on youth brain development can be long-lasting, and can include lower impulse control and mood disorders. Young people who smoke are also in danger of nicotine addiction, reduced lung growth and function, and early cardiovascular disease. Shortness of breath and lower stamina due to smoking can affect athletic performance in youth and teens. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking is initiated and established primarily during adolescence, with more than 80% of adult smokers first smoking before age 18. One in six adults and one in nine youth smoke in New Mexico. About half of all lifetime smokers will die early because of their tobacco use. In New Mexico, about 2,800 people die from tobacco use annually and another 84,000 are living with tobacco-related diseases. Annual smoking-related medical costs in New Mexico total $844 million.


A current smoker is defined as a youth in grades 9-12 in a NM public high school who smoked cigarettes on one or more days in the past month.

Data Sources

  • U.S. data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data
  • New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, New Mexico Department of Health and Public Education Department.

How the Measure is Calculated

Numerator:Number of youth who reported smoking cigarettes on one or more days in the past month
Denominator:All youth who participated in the YRRS

How Are We Doing?

Cigarette smoking among NM high school youth reached a historic low (8.9%) in 2019, after a decade of significant declines. However, e-cigarettes have emerged and outpaced cigarettes as the highest use tobacco product, with 34% of youth currently using e-cigarettes.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

New Mexico high school youth smoke cigarettes at a higher rate than youth in the U.S. overall (8.9% vs. 6.0%). New Mexico's youth cigarette smoking rate is sixth highest among the 44 states who complete a youth health survey.

What Is Being Done?

The NM Department of Health Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program implements youth engagement strategies and tobacco prevention campaigns, including 24/7 tobacco-free schools, No Minor Sale (tobacco retailer awareness/education), and supports key partners in their state and local tobacco education and policy efforts.

Evidence-based Practices

Addressing tobacco use is best done through a coordinated effort to establish tobacco-free policies and social norms, to promote and assist tobacco users to quit, and to prevent initiation of tobacco use. This comprehensive approach combines educational, clinical, regulatory, economic, and social strategies. Research has documented strong or sufficient evidence in the use of the following strategies: - Increasing the unit price of tobacco products - Restricting minors' access to tobacco products; restricting the time, place, and manner in which tobacco is marketed and sold - Strategic, culturally appropriate, and high impact health communication messages (mass media), including paid TV, radio, billboard, print, and web-based advertising at state and local levels - Ensuring that all patients seen in the health care system are screened for tobacco use, receive brief interventions to help them quit, and are offered more intensive counseling and low- or no-cost cessation medications; providing insurance coverage of tobacco use treatment; phone- and web-based cessation services are effective and can reach large numbers of tobacco users; - Passage of laws and policies in a comprehensive tobacco control effort to protect the public from secondhand exposure - Focusing tobacco prevention and cessation interventions on populations at greatest risk in an effort to reduce tobacco-related health disparities Sources: CDC. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs - 2014 ( The Guide to Community Preventive Services: Tobacco Use - 2010 (

Other Objectives

Substance Abuse Epidemiology Report Indicator, New Mexico Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI), New Mexico Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI)

Available Services

Current services include a free telephone helpline (1-800-QUIT NOW), with a personalized quitting plan, a trained quitting coach, multiple calls per enrollee, and quit coaching translation available in 200 languages. Web-based cessation services are also available ( stand-alone or in combination with the telephone helpline. The telephone helpline is also available in Spanish (1-855 DEJELO YA), and the Spanish web-based services are available at Additional services include free nicotine patches or gum and text-messaging support.

More Resources

Visit for full information about the NM Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program.

Indicator Data Last Updated On 03/30/2021, Published on 04/09/2021
Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program, Population and Community Health Bureau, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health, 5301 Central Ave NE, Suite 800, Albuquerque, NM 87108.