Tobacco use declines among youth, but they’re still at risk

Nov 8, 2023, 6:30 AM

FILE - A high school student uses a vaping device. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)...

FILE - A high school student uses a vaping device. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

(AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show tobacco use declined recently among high school students.

According to the data, over 22% of middle and high school students in the country have used tobacco products. E-cigarettes are the most common. 

The data shows that from 2022 to 2023, tobacco product use among high school students decreased from 16.5% to 12.6%. For e-cigarettes specifically, use decreased from 14.1% to 10%.

Kids in Utah are also vaping less. According to a press release from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, vaping rates for Utah youth have decreased from 12.4% in 2019 to 7.4% in 2023. 

Lower numbers are good, but kids are still being targeted

Despite the decline in tobacco use, youth are still being targeted.

According to the CDC report, “e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth since 2014. This is a problem because those who use e-cigarettes reported still using them.” The CDC said that means young people who use e-cigarettes are continuous users. 

According to a press release, the Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to 15 online retailers for selling illegal e-cigarettes. Some retailers sold e-cigarettes that resembled various characters like SpongeBob and Mario, others sold e-cigarettes that look like school supplies. 

“The design of these products is a shamelessly egregious attempt to target kids,” said Brian King, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, in a release.

It’s a tough sell that adults using e-cigarettes to transition away from cigarettes need them to look like SpongeBob in order to do so successfully.”

According to the press release from the DHHS, the best way to address addiction is to help the young person get into treatment.

The agency recommends programs like My Life My Quit, Parent Conversation Guide, and Empower Vape-Free Youth.

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Tobacco use declines among youth, but they’re still at risk