4 Unfortunate Findings on Teens' Tobacco Use

More and more middle and high school students are taking up e-cigarettes.

More and more middle and high school students are taking up e-cigarettes.

The CDC and the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products recently published dramatic findings on tobacco use among adolescents in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The 2 organizations examined data from the 2011 to 2015 National Youth Tobacco Surveys to uncover trends for 7 different tobacco products: cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, CVS has done. A smoking cessation products and follow up with them about their progress to keep them motivated.

Tushar Singh, MD, PhD, MS, of the Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC, told Pharmacy Times that pharmacists can play a crucial role in preventing tobacco use, which is the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disease in the United States.

“[Pharmacists] see many of their patients regularly, and many of these patients may be tobacco users who want to quit,” Dr. Singh said. “Pharmacists can ask all patients whether they use tobacco products, encourage those who do to quit, and provide help with quitting by discussing FDA-approved smoking cessation tools.”

He also recommended that pharmacists speak with young adults and youth about the dangers of nicotine, e-cigarettes, and all other tobacco use.

Here are 4 unfortunate research findings that pharmacists should know about high school and middle school students’ use of e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco:

1. E-cigarette use among teens practically tripled in just 1 year.

The 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that current e-cigarette use, which was defined as using at least 1 e-cigarette in the last 30 days, grew from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014. This translated to an increase from about 660,000 youth using e-cigarettes to 2 million.

In addition, middle school students’ e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1% in 2013 to 3.9% in 2014. This translated to an increase from 120,000 middle schoolers using e-cigarettes to 450,000.

2. E-cigarettes are currently more popular among adolescents than any other tobacco product.

In 2015, e-cigarettes were the most popular product among middle and high school students.

Among white, Hispanic, and other non-Hispanic races, e-cigarettes were the most-used tobacco product, but cigars were the most popular product among African-Americans.

The percentages of current tobacco product use among high schoolers in 2015 was as follows:

· E-cigarettes: 16%

· Cigarettes: 9.3%

· Cigars: 8.6%

· Hookahs: 7.2%

· Smokeless tobacco: 7.2%

· Pipe tobacco: 1%

· Bidis: 0.6%

For middle schoolers, the percentages of current tobacco product use were smaller:

· E-cigarettes: 5.3%

· Cigarettes: 2.3%

· Hookahs: 2%

· Smokeless tobacco: 1.8%

· Cigars: 1.6%

· Pipe tobacco: 0.4%

· Bidis: 0.2%

3. Hookah use among teens almost doubled between 2011 and 2015.

Although hookah declined among high school students from 2014 to 2015, there was a relatively large jump in use compared with 2011 to 2015.

Hookah use was 4.1% among high schoolers in 2011, and it reached 7.2% in 2015. Among middle schoolers, hookah use increased from 1% to 2%.

4. Overall tobacco use among middle and high school students has remained stable.

The increases in e-cigarette and hookah use and the decreases in cigar and cigarette use meant that there was no change overall in tobacco use among teens.

The study authors surmised that increases in tobacco prices, more smoke-free laws, and media campaigns against big tobacco have likely helped reduce the use of certain tobacco products, such as cigarettes. However, they expressed concern that because of emerging tobacco products like e-cigarettes, there has been no decline in overall tobacco use from 2011 to 2015.

“Sustained efforts to implement proven tobacco control policies and strategies are necessary to prevent youth use of all tobacco products,” the researchers stated, pointing to the FDA’s April 2014 proposed rule on its jurisdiction over tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. “Regulation of the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products by FDA, coupled with full implementation of comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies at CDC-recommended funding levels, could reduce youth tobacco initiation and use.”

One limitation to this study was that only students from public and private schools were surveyed, so the results may not be generalizable to those who are homeschooled, in detention centers, or have dropped out of school. In addition, the data were self-reported.