A Survey by the California Department of Public Health Tobacco Prevention Program

The California Youth Tobacco Survey (CYTS) is a statewide survey of tobacco use, behaviors, and attitudes among youth in California. It has been conducted since 2001. Schools and policy makers can use this information to understand local trends in tobacco use and prevent youth tobacco use in California.


This public health surveillance activity is funded by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in collaboration with the California Department of Education (CDE) Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Office. RTI International is under contract to conduct the survey.

Schools are randomly selected to participate, with sampling stratified by geographic region. Data collection in years 2022 and 2024 will produce state-level youth tobacco use estimates, and data from those years will be combined with data collected in 2023 and 2025 to produce county-level estimates.

This survey has been administered biennially to California middle and high schools since 2001 and was formerly called the California Student Tobacco Survey (CSTS). CDPH and the California Tobacco Prevention Program (CTPP) are required to oversee the CYTS to provide surveillance of the tobacco use prevalence rates among students, in accordance with the California Health & Safety Code (HSC), Section 104375(c).

Previous rounds of data collection were conducted by WestEd (2001–02 to 2011–12) and University of California San Diego (2015-16 to 2018-19).





Your participation informs funding, programs, and policies that can improve health outcomes for youth in California. Nicotine can rewire a teen’s developing brain. Exposure to nicotine in adolescence has been linked with long-term learning and academic difficulties, specifically difficulty concentrating and behavioral problems. Your participation will provide up-to-date data that will be used to:

  • Track statewide student tobacco use in grades 8, 10, and 12.
  • Examine trends in the use of multiple products (e.g. cigarettes, vapes, hookah, little cigars/cigarillos, and marijuana).
  • Determine whether the introduction of new and emerging tobacco products has changed social norms for youth tobacco use.
  • Shape prevention and intervention efforts and increase awareness to better serve middle and high school students across the state.
  • Influence policies that will prevent the sale of tobacco and marijuana products to youth in California.

The California Youth Tobacco Survey (CYTS), (formerly known as California Student Tobacco Survey) has been conducted since 2001 by the California Department of Public Health’s California Tobacco Control Program (CDPH/CTCP). The main goal of CYTS is to obtain statewide rates of use for various tobacco products by middle and high school students in California. Marijuana use will also be assessed since tobacco and marijuana co-use has become popular. This information will inform statewide prevention and intervention efforts. CYTS is also designed to assist in the evaluation of the California Department of Education’s Tobacco-Use Prevention Education Program. The California Department of Education and California Department of Public Health have partnered with RTI International to fulfill a legislative mandate to complete this data collection in California.

Participating schools will receive county-level reports on student tobacco use as well as new tobacco trends and products. Administrators will receive an invitation to a webinar to discuss reports and findings. Schools will also receive $500 for participation.

All data collected are anonymous and confidential. Neither students’ names nor any other personally identifiable information will be collected. CYTS complies with all laws and regulations, and a rigorous set of standards and procedures is in place to safeguard the privacy of participants and the confidentiality of data. Student survey responses will be collected from thousands of students across the state and responses will be combined so individual student responses may not be identified.

Schools were randomly selected by geographic region, locale, and type: public and private, including charter and magnet schools. Approximately 550 schools across California will be invited to participate in CYTS in 2022, 2023, and/or 2024. Data collection in years 2022 and 2024 will produce state-level youth tobacco use estimates. Data from 2022 will be combined with data collected in 2023 to produce county-level estimates. Your school represents many schools in California and cannot be replaced.

At each school, classrooms will be selected randomly from a list of all homeroom classes in grades 8, 10, and 12. All students in the selected classrooms will be invited to participate, for an average of 140 students per school.

The survey is conducted by school staff, usually the classroom teacher. The survey is online and takes about 30 minutes to complete. RTI International study liaisons will provide support and training for school staff.