The Centers for Disease Control has released the results of the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) which tracks youth tobacco use (among other behaviors) in grades 9-12 in the United States. So how do Florida students compare to the national results? Included below are the results for the YRBS and the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) for specific categories:
Cigarettes: YRBS 2015 FYTS 2015
Ever tried cigarettes 32.0% 22.9%
Current cigarette use 11.0% 6.9%
Frequent cigarette use 3.0% 2.5%
Daily cigarette use 2.0% N/A
Current users tried to quit 45.0% N/A
Smokeless Tobacco & Cigar Use:
Current use smokeless 7.0% 5.0%
Current use cigars 10.0% 9.3%
(cigars, cigarillos or little cigars)
Flavored smokeless N/A 3.9%
Electronic Vapor Use:
Ever used 45.0% 37.6%
Current use 24.1% 15.8%
(at least 1 day during past 30 days)
As you can tell from the figures above, Florida high school students are below the national averages, and the lowest in the nation when it comes to current cigarette use (at least one use in the past 30 days). In fact, Florida high school students are showing decreases in every category from 2014 except for electronic cigarettes which went up 5 percent. Hookah use, which is not reported in the YRBS, is up 26.0% for Florida high school students since first reporting in 2009, but is down from the 2014 figure.
One statistic the YRBS reported is the percentage of high school students who were able to purchase “their own cigarettes by buying them in a store or gas station.” The percent of ninth grade students able to purchase – 6.3; 10th grade – 6.1%; 11th grade – 20.2%; and 12th grade – 16.5%. The decrease in 12th grade student percentage could be explained that many have reached the 18 year minimum age requirement to purchase tobacco products, and therefore would not be included in the report.
The FYTS does not ask how students obtain tobacco, but asked how they obtained electronic cigarette devices, and 21.9% of high school students stated they purchased them from a convenience store, supermarket or gas station. Prior to this past year there was confusion in Florida about the minimum age to purchase these devices, but electronic cigarettes are now in line with other tobacco products. A troubling statistic for Florida is that 7.6% of middle school students and 3.5% of high school students stated they got their e-cigarette devices from their parents, while 9.8% of middle school students and 7.7% of high school students reported giving money to someone else to make these purchases.
It is obvious the U.S. could do better in keeping tobacco products out of the hands of youth by raising the minimum tobacco age to 21 and increasing federal taxes on all tobacco and electronic nicotine products. We just have to determine how important the health of our future generations is to us and to them.