Health

11.3% of Middle and High Schoolers Use Tobacco Products, CDC Says

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Nov. 14, 2022 — More than 3 million middle and high school students said they used tobacco products in the last 30 days, the CDC reports. 

That’s 11.3% of students surveyed. Overall, 16.5% of high school students and 4.5% of middle schoolers reported current tobacco use, the CDC said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report

The most commonly used products were e-cigarettes, followed by cigars, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products, and pipe tobacco. The findings come from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which was conducted January 18, 2022, to May 31, 2022. 

“Commercial tobacco product use continues to threaten the health of our nation’s youth, and disparities in youth tobacco product use persist,” Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a statement. “By addressing the factors that lead to youth tobacco product use and helping youth to quit, we can give our nation’s young people the best opportunity to live their healthiest lives.”

Broken down by groups, tobacco products had been used in the last 30 days by 12.3% of female students; 10.3% of males; 13.5% of non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Natives; 12.4% of Whites; 11.5% of Blacks; 11.1% of Hispanics or Latinos; and 3.1% of Asian students.

Tobacco use was reported by 16% who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual; 16.6% who identified as transgender; 18.3% who reported severe psychological distress; 12.5% with low family affluence; and 27.2% who reported getting mostly F grades.

Favors, marketing, and misperceptions of harm are major factors contributing to youths’ use of tobacco. Most youth who use tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, want to quit, the CDC’s statement said.

“Youth use of tobacco products – in any form – is unsafe,” said the report. “Such products contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain. Using nicotine during adolescence might also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.”

The report said the ability to compare the 2022 survey findings to previous years is “limited” because of differences in data collection procedures.

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