According to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the number of middle and high school students using electronic cigarettes tripled between 2013 and 2014.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said, “The use of e-cigarettes among teenagers has eclipsed the use of traditional cigarettes and all other tobacco products, which is alarming and shocking. What’s most surprising is how incredibly rapid the use of products other than cigarettes has increased. It is subjecting another generation of our children to an addictive substance. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use.”
The findings came from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which involved 22,000 students around the country. It contained details of the quickly evolving landscape of tobacco products that appeal to teenagers. It showed current e-cigarette use, defined as using it at least once in the past 30 days, surpassed current use of every other tobacco product for the first time.
The data from the survey showed that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased from 4.5% to 13.4%. That is a jump from approximately 660,000 to more than 2 million students. The report also added that the usage more than tripled among middle school students, from about 120,000 students to 450,000. Only among black students was another tobacco product – cigars –more popular than e-cigarettes.
The report also adds that the use of hookahs roughly doubled for middle and high school students, also eclipsing the use of regular cigarettes. Additionally, the use of conventional cigarettes sank to the lowest levels in years. The report showed that 9.2% of high school students and 2.5% of middle school students reported smoking a cigarette over the past month.
“The drop in cigarette use is historic, with enormous public health significance. But the explosion of e-cigarette use among kids means these products are being taken up in record numbers with totally unknown long-term consequences that could potentially undermine all the progress we’ve made,” added Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.