Fewer high school students used e-cigarettes in the past year, but more middle school students have reported picking up tobacco products, according to new government data.
The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used data from its 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey that revealed 2.8 million, or 1 in 10, middle and high school students currently use tobacco products.
Its study found the number of high school students using any form of tobacco products declined from 16.5% to 12.6% in the last year, mostly due to a significant decline in e-cigarette use — from 14.1% to 10% — though the decline was also apparent in other products, too.
But for middle school students, current use of any type of tobacco product rose from 4.5% to 6.6%, and the use of multiple types rose from 1.5% to 2.5%. There was no significant change in e-cigarette use for the age group, with 4.6% using the product in the last 30 days.
E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among American youth since 2014.
Though fewer high school students are using them, nearly 40% still are using them frequently, with 29.9% reporting daily use, the report stated.
Coupling middle and high schoolers, 2.1 million students are still using e-cigarettes, and 89.4% of those are using flavored products. Elf Bar holds 56.7% of users, followed by Esco Bars and Vuse with around 20%, and JUUL with 16.5%.
These findings, though in part encouraging due to some declines, outlined the need for further focus on how to reduce nicotine dependence among adolescents by preventing them from using tobacco products in the first place, the study said.
It recommends policies like price increases, smoke-free policies that include e-cigarettes, counter-marketing campaigns and health care prevention to continue to reduce the numbers.
The CDC says nicotine can harm a young person's brain development, which continues until about age 25. Altering this can affect attention, learning, mood and impulse control. Plus, using nicotine and e-cigarettes in adolescence can increase risk of future addiction to other drugs, the agency says.
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