Current electronic cigarette use among US middle- and high-school students tripled between 2013 and 2014, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) and the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Findings from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that current electronic cigarette use (use on at least one day in the past 30 days) among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014: from about 660,000 to about two million students, according to a CDCP press note issued through PRNewswire. Among middle school students, current electronic cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014: from about 120,000 to about 450,000 students.
This was said to be the first time since the survey started collecting data on electronic cigarettes in 2011 that current use of these products surpassed current use of every other tobacco product overall, including conventional cigarettes.
“We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar,” said CDCP director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “Adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use.”
Hookah smoking use roughly doubled for middle- and high-school students, while cigarette use declined among high school students and remained unchanged for middle school students. Among high school students, current hookah use rose from 5.2 percent in 2013 (about 770,000 students) to 9.4 percent in 2014 (about 1.3 million students). Among middle school students, current hookah use rose from 1.1 percent in 2013 (120,000 students) to 2.5 percent in 2014 (280,000 students).
‘The increases in e-cigarette and hookah use offset declines in use of more traditional products such as cigarettes and cigars,’ the press note said. ‘There was no decline in overall tobacco use between 2011 and 2014. Overall rates of any tobacco product use were 24.6 percent for high school students and 7.7 percent for middle school students in 2014. In 2014, the products most commonly used by high school students were e-cigarettes (13.4 percent), hookah (9.4 percent), cigarettes (9.2 percent), cigars (8.2 percent), smokeless tobacco (5.5 percent), snus (1.9 percent) and pipes (1.5 percent).
‘Use of multiple tobacco products was common; nearly half of all middle and high school students who were current tobacco users used two or more types of tobacco products.
‘The products most commonly used by middle school students were e-cigarettes (3.9 percent), hookah (2.5 percent), cigarettes (2.5 percent), cigars (1.9 percent), smokeless tobacco (1.6 percent), and pipes (0.6 percent).’
Cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco are currently subject to the FDA’s tobacco control authority and the agency is said to be finalizing rules that will bring additional tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes, hookahs and some or all cigars under that same authority.
“In today’s rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace, the surge in youth use of novel products like e-cigarettes forces us to confront the reality that the progress we have made in reducing youth cigarette smoking rates is being threatened,” said Mitch Zeller, JD, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These staggering increases in such a short time underscore why FDA intends to regulate these additional products to protect public health.”
The report says that further reducing youth tobacco use and initiation is achievable through regulation of the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products coupled with ‘proven strategies’, including the funding of tobacco control programs at CDCP-recommended levels, increasing prices of tobacco products, implementing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free laws, and sustaining hard-hitting media campaigns.
The report says also that because the use of electronic cigarettes and hookahs is on the rise among high- and middle-school students, it is critical that comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies for youth focus on all tobacco products, and not just on traditional cigarettes.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey is a school-based, self-administered questionnaire given annually to middle- and high-school students in both public and private schools. It surveyed 22,000 students in 2014 and is said to be nationally representative.