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Priority Population: Young Adults (18-24)

For many young adults, transitions like moving away from home, going to college or trade school, starting work, developing new relationships, or pregnancy are major passages that can be very stressful. These life-changing events often make it easier to disregard the health effects of tobacco use, downplay tobacco addiction, and to believe they will be able to quit at some point in the future.

Tobacco Use Prevalence

  • In the U.S., nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and almost all (98%) first tried smoking by age 26.
  • Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26.
  • 14.7% (2017) of young adults in South Dakota smoke vs. 13.1% nationwide (2016).
  • 3.8% of SD young adults 18-29 use chewing tobacco every day.
  • Smoking among non-college bound young adults is more than 2 times as prevalent as those attending college.

Risk Factors

Many factors contribute to young adults being at higher risk for tobacco use and nicotine addiction.

Being a young adult is stressful.

  • There is a strong relationship between tobacco use and depression, anxiety, and stress.
  • The tobacco industry promotes their products as a quick way to relieve tension from stress.

Young adults are protective of their self-image.

  • There is a perception of weight gain with quitting, which can make quit attempts harder and lead to relapse, especially for young adult women.

Young adults are exposed to “social smoking” environments.

  • There is a high incidence of “social smoking” among college students.
  • Young people often work in food service or hospitality industries, where tobacco use is more prevalent than in other industries.

It’s difficult for young adults to quit.

  • Young adults are more likely to experiment with e-cigarettes and/or hookah products. This can lead to use of other tobacco products and nicotine addiction.
  • Young adults are less likely to participate in tobacco cessation programs and to receive advice from their healthcare provider to quit.

South Dakota Services for Young Adults

Rethink Tobacco

Rethink Tobacco is a prevention-oriented website designed specifically for youth and young adults. The site features state and national statistics and facts related to tobacco, vape, chew, and hookah use. It also provides background on the tobacco industry’s sneaky tactics to recruit the next generation of tobacco addicts and ways for young people to take action in their communities.

South Dakota QuitLine

South Dakota QuitLine services are free and available to anyone 13 years of age or older. Young adults can get help with quitting any type of tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.