The latest National Youth Tobacco Survey 2011-2017 has been published regarding current (past 30-day) use of tobacco use among middle (grades 6-8) and high school students (grades 9-12). Current use was defined as use on 1 or more days during the past 30 days. Combustible tobacco products were defined as cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipe tobacco, and/or bidis (small imported cigarettes wrapped in a leaf).
Among high school students, 19.6% reported current use of any tobacco product which included 9.2% who currently used 2 or more tobacco products. It was not surprising that in 2017 electronic cigarettes (11.7%) were the most common form of tobacco product among high school students, followed by cigars (7.7%), cigarettes (7.6%), smokeless tobacco (5.5%), hookah (3.3%), pipe tobacco (0.8%), and bidis (0.7%). More males than females used smokeless tobacco. Non-Hispanic white (white) (14.2%) and Hispanic (10.1%) high school students were more likely to use e-cigarettes while cigars were most commonly used tobacco product among non-Hispanic black (black) high school students (7.8%). During 2016-2017, decreases in current use of hookah and pipe tobacco were seen among high school students.
Among middle school students, 5.6% used any tobacco product, including 2.4% who used 2 or more tobacco products. As with high school students, e-cigarettes were most popular (3.3%), followed by cigarettes (2.1%), smokeless tobacco (1.9%), cigars (1.5%), hookah (1.4%), pipe tobacco (0.4%), and bidis (0.3%). Males (6.4%) were more likely than females (4.8%) to use any tobacco product. E-cigs were the most commonly used product among Hispanic (4.0%), white (3.4%), and black (2.2%) middle school students.
While decreases were seen in the current use of any tobacco product during 2011-2017 among both middle and high school students, one in five high school students (2.95 million) and one in 18 (0.67 million) middle school students currently uses a tobacco product. Of those, one in two high school students and two and five middle school students reported using 2 or more tobacco products. Nicotine dependence increased in multiple tobacco product users compared with those in single product users.
Several factors could have contributed to the decrease in tobacco use including tobacco prevention and control strategies, price increases, smoke-free policies, and media education about the dangers of tobacco use. But youth are still exposed to product advertising through media and the availability of flavored tobacco products. The FDA is currently obtaining “information related to the role that flavors play in tobacco product use.”
While it is good to see decreases in use among youth, we still have a long way to go to reach all students about the current and future dangers of tobacco and nicotine use. The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators is currently updating information in our 30- and 60 point courses including a new chapter specifically on electronic cigarettes and vaping.
Click HERE for the full NYTS text.