Up in Smoke: E-cigarette Use Among American Youth Surpasses Cigarettes, But for How Much Longer?

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, according to the CDC. The nicotine in recently available e-cigarettes, or vapes, varies, and research to learn the long-term consequences of use are still in early stages. Surveys distributed by the CDC [1] to U.S. middle and high schoolers revealed the following trends.

Percent of Middle and High School Students Who Have Used Cigarettes and Electronic Cigarettes in the Past 30 Days, 2011­–2016 [2]

[Line graph with two lines; one for cigarettes and one for e-cigs]

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Cigarettes

10.5%

9.3%

8.2%

6.1%

6%

5.8%

E-cigarettes

1%

2%

2.9%

9.1%

11.2%

8.4%

Have you ever been curious about using an e-cigarette or smoking a cigarette?

 

Cigarettes

E-cigarettes

Definitely yes

10%

13.9%

Probably yes

15.9%

16.1%

Probably not

15.8%

13.7%

Definitely not

57.3%

53.7%

If one of your best friends were to offer you an e-cigarette/cigarette, would you use/smoke it?

 

Cigarettes

E-cigarettes

Definitely yes

3.4%

7%

Probably yes

6.4%

13% [CS5]

Probably not

19.7%

17.9%

Definitely not

69.9%

60.8%

How much do you think people harm themselves when they smoke cigarettes/use e-cigarettes some days, but not every day?

 

Cigarettes

E-cigarettes

No harm

3.6%

9.5%

Little harm

5.8%

26.8%

Some harm

31.9%

35.2%

A lot of harm

55.7%

25.1%

During the past 30 days, where did you get the e-cigarettes that you used?

Of the participants surveyed, 82.1% stated that they “have never tried an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.” The remaining participants were directed to “select all that apply” among the following sources:

I have never tried an e-cigarette in the past 30 days

82.1%

A gas station or convenience store

1.8%

A grocery store

0.3%

A drugstore

0.5%

A mall or shopping center kiosk/stand

0.6%

On the Internet

1.2%

Vape shop or other store that only sells e-cigarettes

3%

Some other place not listed here

0.7%

From a family member

3.1%

From a friend

8.9%

From some other person who is not a family member or a friend

1.7%

What are the reasons you used e-cigarettes?

Of the participants surveyed, 76.7% stated that they “have never tried an e-cigarette.” The remaining participants were directed to “select all that apply” among the following reasons:

I have never tried an e-cigarette

76.7%

Friend or family member used them

8.7%

To try to quit using other tobacco products, such as cigarettes

1.8%

They cost less than other tobacco products, such as cigarettes

0.7%

They are easier to get than other tobacco products, such as cigarettes

1.1%

Famous people on TV or in movies use them

0.4%

They are less harmful than other forms of tobacco, such as cigarettes

3.8%

They are available in flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate

6.7%

They can be used in areas where other tobacco products, such as cigarettes, are not allowed

1.5%

I used them for some other reason

7%

All percentages represented are weighted. However, please note that the original research includes small samples of missing or inconsistent datasets due to the participant nature of the study.

Source:

Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Historical NYTS Data and Documentation,” CDC, Jan 2, 2018. Accessed Feb 21, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/surveys/nyts/data/index.html

  1. From CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Surveys, 2011–2016 . Surveys are conducted among middle and high school students in the United States.
  2. Past 30-day use of cigarettes was determined by the prompt, “During the past 30 days, on how many days did you smoke cigarettes?”; and for electronic cigarettes, “During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes?” and combining responses to derive use.

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