Millions of Youth Reportedly Use Tobacco

CDC releases new data on tobacco trends in middle and high schoolers

(RxWiki News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study showing high use of tobacco products among teenagers.

The new study's findings were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The data shows more than 3 million middle and high school students in the US reportedly used a tobacco product in the last 30 days. 

This number translates to:

  • 2.51 million high school students
  • 530,000 middle school students

The study was based on data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) — a self-administered survey completed by middle and high school students.

Tobacco products include (listed in order of popularity, with e-cigarettes being the most popular):

  • E-cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Cigarettes
  • Smokeless tobacco
  • Hookah
  • Nicotine pouches
  • Heated tobacco products
  • Pipe tobacco

E-cigarettes were the the most commonly used tobacco product among all students. In fact, e-cigarettes have been the No. 1 tobacco product in this age group for last nine years.

Different groups of teenagers showed different trends in tobacco use:

  • Any tobacco product use: Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native students had the highest percentage of use.
  • E-cigarettes: Non-Hispanic white students reported the highest percentage of use.
  • Combustible tobacco product use (including cigar use): Non-Hispanic Black students reported the highest percentage of use.

“Commercial tobacco product use continues to threaten the health of our nation’s youth, and disparities in youth tobacco product use persist,” said Dr. Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, in a press release.

Despite progress in recent years, more work remains to be done.

“It’s clear we’ve made commendable progress in reducing cigarette smoking among our nation’s youth. However, with an ever-changing tobacco product landscape, there’s still more work to be done,” said Dr. Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, in a press release.

Just recently, the FDA issued warning letters to several companies for marketing their unauthorized products. These products were specifically designed to cater to young people, as they looked like toys (glow sticks, walkie-talkies, Nintendo Gameboys, popsicles and similar foods) or had well-known characters (Family Guy, Minions, Squid Game).

The FDA noted that flavors and marketing are all factors that contribute to the use of tobacco products among younger people.

The FDA also reported that, through Oct. 28, it had issued more than 440 warning letters to companies illegally marketing e-cigarettes containing tobacco-derived nicotine.

It is unsafe for kids, teens and young adults to use tobacco products (in any form).

One reason is that these products contain nicotine. Not only is nicotine addictive, but it can harm the developing brain. The brain continues to develop into the early to mid-20s.

Nearly all tobacco product use starts during youth and young adulthood, the FDA noted. 

Furthermore, tobacco use is considered a leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death among adults in the US.

There are ongoing federal, state and local efforts to lower tobacco product use among children and teens.

Everyone can get involved, according to the CDC. Here's what the agency recommends:

  1. Help young people recognize the dangers of tobacco use
  2. Encourage youth not to use tobacco products
  3. Support those who want to quit

If you need additional resources or support, reach out to your healthcare provider.