National Youth Tobacco Survey Shows Popularity of E-Cigarettes in Teens

There was no change in overall tobacco use in middle and high school students between 2011 and 2014, according to the results of the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey. While cigarette use decreased from 15.8 percent to 9.2 percent, the use of hookah and e-cigarettes went up significantly.

Co-conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the survey asked U.S. students in grades 6 – 12 to indicate their current (past 30-day) use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes and hookahs. Participation varied in each year of the study between 18,500 to 22,000 students.

In 2014, 24.6 percent (24.2 in 2011) of high school students reported using a tobacco product, while 12.7 percent (12.5 in 2011) reported current use of two or more products. E-cigarettes were the most popular tobacco product in both middle and high school, with 3.9 percent use and 13.4 percent use, respectively. Compared to 2011, e-cigarette use in high school students is up 11.9 percent, with hookah use increasing from 4.1 percent to 9.4 percent between 2011 and 2014.

According to the FDA announcement, current research shows that nicotine exposure at a young age increases the chances of addiction and can cause other harmful diseases to this vulnerable population.

“Tobacco-related products have continued to evolve at a pace faster than our scientific understanding of their biological effects,” stated Pamela B. Morris, MD, FACC, chair of ACC’s Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Section Leadership Council, in response to the survey results. “Despite claims of potential health benefits, the long-term consequences of adolescent exposure to electronic cigarette aerosol, which contains nicotine, carbonyls (formaldehyde and acrolein) and particulates, are unknown.”

The FDA also notes that the agency is currently finalizing a rule that would “extend its authority to regulate additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as electronic cigarettes, cigars and hookahs.” The ACC recently joined numerous health care organizations to urge President Obama to take action immediately and finalize the regulation, which was proposed in April 2014. The agency has also proposed a minimum age of 18 to purchase tobacco. 

Clinical Topics: Congenital Heart Disease and Pediatric Cardiology, Prevention, CHD & Pediatrics and Prevention, Smoking

Keywords: Adolescent, Behavior, Addictive, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), Electronic Cigarettes, Nicotine, Students, Tobacco, Tobacco Products, Tobacco Use, Tobacco, Smokeless, United States Food and Drug Administration

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