Tobacco use among the youth in the U.S. fell to historic lows in 2016, leading many health experts to contemplate a smoke-free generation in the not too distant future.

The number of middle and high school students who used any tobacco product fell to 3.9 million in 2016 from 4.7 million in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the first such decline since the CDC started reporting the measurements in 2011.

The number of high school students who smoked cigarettes in the 30 days before being surveyed fell to 8% from 9.3% in 2015. In 2011 the number was 15.8%.

"This represents a historic public health victory," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

"These numbers are astounding," said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the department of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health. "It really means that we may be within reach of a smoke-free generation."

Despite Friday's figures, shares of tobacco firms including British American Tobacco (BTI) , Altria Group (MO) , Philip Morris International (PM) and Reynolds America (RAI) were all moving higher during mid-morning trading today. 

What's Hot on TheStreet

Snap is bleeding value: Snap Inc. (SNAP) fell nearly 5% by the close of trading on Wall Street Thursday, but never dipped below the $17 price that shares were sold at on March 2, when the company debuted on the Nasdaq with a $3.4 billion IPO. By the end of that first trading day, with shares rising more than 44%, Snap was valued at just under $33 billion.

Since then it has been all downhill for Snap, TheStreet's Martin Baccardax reports.

Investors have questioned the relevance of the company's Snapchat app in a market dominated by messaging services such as Facebook's (FB) WhatsApp and the business-focused Slack Technologies. Wall Street has also raised questions about its ability to monetize the billions of messages it handles each day.

The stock is now 41% south of the all-time high reached on March 3. Snap's market cap has shrunk about $13 billion.

General Electric remains hot on everyone's minds: Change is in the air within the executive ranks at industrial giant General Electric (GE) , which of course could mean deep cost cuts to jump-start a stalled stock price.

"The change is welcome," TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer said during an exclusive conference call with members of his Action Alerts PLUS club for investors about long-time CEO Jeff Immelt handing off the baton to John Flannery. "Flannery will make the tough cuts that Immelt seemed incapable of making. We're looking for $2 billion in savings."

The Deal's super reporter Ron Orol just dove deep into GE in this must-read.

Alibaba wants to dominate: TheStreet's Natalie Walters is live with the second part of her exclusive interview with Alibaba's (BABA) vice chairman Joe Tsai. Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma recently made the bold prediction that the Chinese e-commerce giant would hit $1 trillion in gross merchandise value (GMV) by the 2020 fiscal year, and eventually serve two billion customers by 2036. Although Alibaba currently dominates the enormous Chinese market, achieving such lofty goals obviously would require a significant global expansion.

TheStreet takes you through Alibaba's big plans.

General Electric and Facebook are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells GE and FB? Learn more now.

Worried about how to pay for your golden years? Ken Fisher, founder of Fisher Investments, and TheStreet's Jim Cramer will tell you what you need to know in a June 21 webinar on the market trends that are shaping retirement planning today. Register here for the event, which starts at 11 a.m. ET.

Editors' pick: Originally published June 16.

More from Stocks

How to Invest in Cannabis - In Its Many Forms

How to Invest in Cannabis - In Its Many Forms

5 Stocks That Are Screaming Buys Right Now

5 Stocks That Are Screaming Buys Right Now

Tesla's Battery Tech Is Unrivaled

Tesla's Battery Tech Is Unrivaled

Facebook Could Get a Cushy Boost to Its Top Line From Messenger by 2020

Facebook Could Get a Cushy Boost to Its Top Line From Messenger by 2020

Stocks Rise, GE Dropped From the Dow, Starbucks, Oracle - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks Rise, GE Dropped From the Dow, Starbucks, Oracle - 5 Things You Must Know