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Teen Smoking Rates Drop, E-Cig Use Rises: Study
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted December 3, 2020

Teen Smoking Rates Drop, E-Cig Use Rises: Study

American teens' use of tobacco cigarettes and smokeless tobacco has dropped to record lows, even as their use of electronic cigarettes increased, new research shows.

For the study, researchers analyzed nationwide data on tobacco product use among 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders from 1991 to 2019.

Daily smoking rates among 12th-grade boys rose 4.9% a year between 1991 and 1998, but fell 8% a year between 1998 and 2006, and 1.6% from 2006 to 2012. There was a 17% annual decline from 2012 to 2019. Overall, daily smoking among 12th-graders fell to about 2% by 2019, the study found.

"This is an astoundingly low rate, and our goal from a public health perspective should be to keep smoking at this rate or lower," said study co-author David Levy, a professor of oncology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Similar results were seen for boys and girls in all grades and for both Black and white teens. The researchers also reported similar rapid decreases in teen use of cigars and cigarillos, along with consistent declines in smokeless tobacco use in the last five years.

Lead study author Rafael Meza said, "While the increases in e-cigarettes are indeed concerning and is something we need to address and reverse, the decreases in other tobacco products, in particular, cigarettes -- the most concerning form of tobacco use -- are accelerating." Meza is associate professor of epidemiology and global health at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The across-the-board decline in cigarette smoking is something to highlight and celebrate, and it "suggests that it's a general pattern, that kids are just not into smoking anymore," Meza added.

There have been concerns that increased e-cigarette use among teens could lead to a resurgence in use of traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.

"But, in contrast, what we found is that the decline in smoking has accelerated," Meza said. "So I think the good news is that the rapid increase in e-cigarette use has not yet resulted in a reversal of the decreasing trends of cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use, and if anything, those trends have accelerated."

The report was published online Dec. 2 in JAMA Network Open.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on teens and tobacco use.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Dec. 2, 2020

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