Teen smoking in the United States hits an all-time low, but use of e-cigarettes is up, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report has shown.
The CDC has released the latest data from the national Youth Risk and Behavior Survey (YRBS), which included 15,000 high school students across 50 states. The survey found that a little over one in about 10 teens smoked cigarettes in 2015 - a huge improvement from the 1991 report that found one smoker in every four teens.
The survey has found that teens who tried smoking at least once were significantly down from 70.1 percent in 1991 to 32.3 percent in 2015. Those who currently smoke cigarettes on a daily basis decreased from 9.8 percent to 2.3 percent during the same period.
Center for Tobacco Control director Patricia Folan said that there are a number of factors that could have caused the decrease in teen smoking. High cigarette prices due to increase in taxes, absence of cigarette advertisements from establishments, stronger campaigns against tobacco use and environmental cigarette bans all contribute to reduce the numbers.
Sad news is that e-cigarette use may also be a factor, as more teens are found to use e-cigarettes more. The survey revealed that about a quarter of high schoolers have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days and about 45 percent have used e-cigarette at least once. The number of teens, about 24 percent, surpasses that of adult users, which is only at less than 4 percent.
Folan said that this is because e-cigarettes and vaping pens were directed to appeal to children and teens with their candy flavors like bubblegum and grape. Folan expressed concern that e-cigarettes still contain addictive substances that may cause negative health effects.
In fact, Tech Times recently reported the National Poison Data System found that a lot of young children have accidental liquid nicotine exposure. It is also highly likely that these teens will eventually shift to using traditional cigarettes when they reach adulthood. A recent study has revealed that about 40 percent of cancers are due to bad habits such as smoking. In fact, smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, with more than 480,000 people dying annually.
The survey has likewise found other risky behaviors of teens were reduced. Soda consumption decreased to 20 percent from 27 percent, premarital sex dropped from 38 percent in 1991 to 30 percent in 2015, and prohibited use of prescription drugs was also down from 20 percent to 17 percent.
CDC Director Tom Frieden is calling for new programs to help curb the development of new risky behaviors, such as use of e-cigarettes and vaping, among the teens.
"While overall trends for the 2015 report are positive, the results highlight the continued need for improvements in reducing risks among teens," said CDC School-Based Surveillance Branch chief Laura Kann.
Photo: Jordan Cameron | Flickr