More and more youths are beginning to think that “smokers are jokers.” A new report highlights a decrease in the number of young American smokers.

Smoking rates for American adolescents and young adults fell between 2004 and 2010 from daily smokers to heavy smokers, but the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services believe that there are still too many young smokers. Continued public health policies against smoking may help continue this positive trend in America.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released their National Survey on Drug Use and Health that highlighted the encouraging trend in America. According to the survey, cigarette use decrease by four percent in teen smokers, from 12 percent in 2004 to around eight percent in 2010, while young adult smokers had an even greater decrease, from close to 40 percent in 2004 down to approximately 34 percent in 2010.

Daily smoking among teens, while rather low, also decreased. Daily teen smokers decreased from a little over three percent in 2004 down to around two percent in 2010. Daily young adult smokers decreased from approximately 20 percent in 2004 to around 15 percent in 2010.

The percentage of heavy smokers also decreased. Among daily smokers, the percentage of smokers who smoked about a pack and a half a day was cut in half in young adults, from approximately six percent in 2004 down to around 3.4 percent in 2010. More encouraging is the fact that many young smokers are cutting back on the number of cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis.

Many public health policies, such as laws banning smoking in public places or really graphic advertisements, may be helping curb the appetite for smoking. Through the Synar Amendment program, the illegal sale of tobacco to teens has also played a role in reducing youth smoking habits. The Synar report shows that rate of retailers who sold tobacco to underage Americans was down to 9.3 percent, the lowest it has ever been in the 14 year history of the Synar Amendment program.

Smoking can lead to lifelong respiratory problems including lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). According to Pamela S. Hyde, a Mental Health Services administrator, while the news is encouraging, “the fact remains that one in 12 adolescents currently smoke and one in three young adults smoke – which means that far too many young people are still endangering their lives.”