Black Youth Show Highest Combustible Tobacco Use Rates in New CDC Survey; Highlighting the Urgency to Undo Decades of Discriminatory, Predatory Marketing by Big Tobacco

Advocates Share Pressing Need to Stop the Tobacco Industry from Continuing to Prey on Atlanta Kids

March 30, 2022

ATLANTA, GA – March 30, 2022 –  New surveys released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that youth tobacco use remains a serious public health threat particularly among Black youth and adult tobacco use rates remain significant.  

The youth survey found alarming, but not surprising, trends when it comes to use of menthol cigarettes and other candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products, shining a spotlight on the need for Atlanta to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all other flavored products. 

Nearly a quarter of middle and high schoolers surveyed reported ever using tobacco and more than 2.5 million report current use (within the last 30 days.) Overall, Black youth had the highest combustible tobacco use rates, including smoking cigars at more than double the rate of their peers. 

“The results from this survey show our kids paying the price for the inaction of adults,” said  D’Jilliser Kelly, Project Coordinator for No Menthol Atlanta. “We continue to be headed in the wrong direction when it comes to protecting our Black and LGBTQ+ youth from the predatory practices from Big Tobacco, and these numbers reiterate the urgency to undo decades of injustice that have allowed the industry to continue to target and harm our communities. It’s time we put a long overdue end to the sale of all flavored tobacco products. 

Tobacco continues to be a major contributor to the three leading causes of death in the Black community and the most preventable cause of death around the world. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) alongside the No Menthol Coalition in Atlanta continues to work at the local level to pass proven tobacco control policies that close the gap on such inequities and reduce the high burden of cancer in Black communities. 

“We need our city councilmembers to step up and take swift, strong action to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products,” added Kelly.  

The survey also showed that e-cigarettes continue to be the most commonly used tobacco product with more than 2 million middle and high schoolers reporting current use. Among youth who currently used any tobacco product, 8 out of 10 used a flavored product. Among youth who currently smoke cigarettes, 38.8 percent smoked menthol cigarettes and among youth who currently smoked cigars, 44.4 percent smoked a flavored cigar. 

The CDC adult tobacco use survey showed that 1 in 5 U.S. adults still report currently using tobacco products and specific demographic groups use tobacco rates at nearly double that. 

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