Tobacco Use Among American Middle and High School Students (2011–2017)

Tobacco Use Among American Middle and High School Students (2011–2017)

Bottom Line: Current tobacco use among American high school students has declined from 24.2 percent in 2011 to 19.6 percent in 2017. Use of e-cigarettes, a.k.a., vaping, held steady in 2017 after a significant decrease in 2016, yet is still the most common method of tobacco consumption among youth.

Tobacco use is the biggest cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, and almost all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood. Survey evidence shows that current tobacco use (in the past 30 days) among high school students fell from 24.2 percent (estimated 3.69 million users) in 2011 to 19.6 percent (2.95 million) in 2017. Among middle school students, current tobacco use decreased from 7.5 percent in 2011 to 5.6 percent in 2017.  

In 2017, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school students, with 11.7 percent of respondents admitting they consumed tobacco by this method in the last 30 days. This proportion of high schoolers using e-cigarettes was nearly the same as in 2016, and far below the 2015 level of 16 percent.  

Use of e-cigarettes outpaced current use of other tobacco products, including cigars (7.7 percent), cigarettes (7.6 percent), smokeless tobacco (5.5 percent), hookah (3.3 percent), pipe tobacco (0.8 percent), and bidis (0.7 percent). Similarly, the most commonly used tobacco product among middle school students was e-cigarettes (3.3 percent), which marked a decline from above 4 percent in 2016, followed by cigarettes (2.1 percent). 

Tobacco prevention and control strategies at the national, state, and local levels have contributed to this reduction in tobacco use in recent years. These strategies include tobacco price increases, smoke-free policies, media campaigns, and youth access restrictions. 

However, factors such as exposure to tobacco advertising and imagery and the availability of flavored tobacco continue to promote tobacco use among youths. Sustained and targeted interventions to address these factors could help prevent and reduce all tobacco use among youths to an even larger degree.

Read the full report: “Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2017” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read our charticle based on the report here.

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