On June 15, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data regarding the number of tobacco users among middle and high school students. The survey results show no significant change in the number of young tobacco users despite the decline in e-cigarette and tobacco use.
A Drop In E-Cigarette Usage
The results from the recent 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that compared to 2015, there were fewer users of tobacco products in 2016. The drop in numbers was primarily because of the lessened number of e-cigarette users among middle school and high school students.
Specifically, the survey, which defines tobacco users as having used any tobacco products in the last 30 days, showed that from 4.7 million middle and high school tobacco users in 2015, the numbers dropped to 3.9 million users in 2016. In addition, 2015's 3 million e-cigarette users dropped to under 2.2 million users in 2016.
A significant decline was also recorded among high school users of hookah, combustible tobacco products, and two or more tobacco products from 2015 to 2016.
Tobacco Use Among The Youth
"While the latest numbers from the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey are encouraging, it is critical that we work to ensure this downward trend continues over the long term across all tobacco products," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
True enough, though the decline is promising, 7.2 percent of middle school students and 20.2 percent of high school students still report using any tobacco product. E-cigarettes also remain to be the most used tobacco product for the third year in a row among high school students at 11.3 percent and middle school students at 4.3 percent.
What's more, though the 2015-2016 numbers are encouraging, studying the 2011-2016 numbers shows a much bigger picture. As it turns out, though the number of young cigarette and cigar users truly did decline in the period between 2011 and 2016, it was offset by the increasing number of hookah and e-cigarette users.
As such, the numbers reflect no significant changes in tobacco use as a whole.
Implications On Public Health Practices
In the United States, 2,500 youths under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette, and 400 become daily smokers. Because of this, authorities are continuous in their efforts to educate the youth about the implications and dangers of tobacco use as well as tobacco-based diseases and deaths.
Further, an important part of their efforts is ensuring that retailers understand and take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to keeping harmful tobacco products out of the hands of children.
The number of middle and high school users of tobacco and e-cigarettes declined from 2015 to 2016. Despite the promising news, the 2011 to 2016 numbers show almost no significant change in any tobacco use.