Tobacco and Youth

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Tobacco and Youth

Smoking is down, but 2.1 million teens still vape

By Working Nurse
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Although the number of American teenagers who smoke cigarettes continues to decline, new data reveals that e-cigarettes remain alarmingly popular among young people.

National Youth Tobacco Survey

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which the CDC conducts annually, cigarette smoking among middle school and high school students in the U.S. dropped by more than 50 percent between 2011 and 2017.  Unfortunately, that decline has been partially offset by the proliferation of e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” among teens. 

In 2017, an estimated 11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school kids used e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use among middle-schoolers was actually down from 2016, but the number of high school students who vape increased slightly between 2016 and 2017. “Despite promising declines in tobacco use, far too many young people continue to use tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” says CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. 

Flavors of Peer Pressure

An important question for public health experts is why vaping is so popular among young people.  A study published in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report back in February suggests that peer pressure is the biggest factor. Thirty-nine percent of teenagers who used e-cigarettes in 2016 said they started because they have friends or family members who vape.

Another enticement, cited by 31 percent of teens who used e-cigarettes in 2016, is the availability of flavors like mint, chocolate or bubble gum.  While this range of flavors appeals to young people who might not be interested in other tobacco products, flavoring may actually present an additional health risk for e-cigarette users. Some research suggests that flavorants, solvents and other e-liquid ingredients may become respiratory or toxicological hazards when heated and aerosolized in an e-cigarette. 

Those aerosolized chemicals’ health impact is still poorly understood, but long-term use could present a rude awakening for the 17.1 percent of teens who believe e-cigarettes are less harmful than other forms of tobacco — the third most commonly cited reason for vaping.  

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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