February 13, 2019

E-cigarettes lead to rising tobacco use among kids

Photo/Flickr/Lindsay Fox
The number of high school students who said they actively vaped rose by 78 percent last year. In middle school, the rate jumped by 49 percent.

Widespread use of e-cigarettes has led to the highest smoking levels among high school students since at least 2011, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report this week.

In a survey conducted last year, 27 percent of high school students and 7 percent of middle school students said they currently use tobacco. E-cigarettes were by far the most commonly used product, with 21 percent of high schoolers saying they used e-cigarettes, and 5 percent of middle schoolers.

That was a 38-percent jump in just one year for tobacco use in high school and a 29-percent jump for middle school.

The new CDC report didn't break out use by state, but Massachusetts had one of the lowest youth smoking rates at 6.4 percent in 2017, according to previous CDC data. Six states, plus Puerto Rico, had lower rates.

Use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, has spiked nationally amid a crackdown by regulators in Massachusetts and elsewhere against what they say is advertising and flavors targeted toward youth.

In the CDC study, the number of high school students who said they actively vaped rose by 78 percent. In middle school, the rate jumped by 49 percent. Use of cigarettes or other tobacco products did not rise at all.

The popularity of vaping among youth has erased broader anti-smoking progress, the CDC said.

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