New Survey Shows Number of High Schoolers Using Tobacco Products is Climbing; Half of High Schoolers Admit to Having Used Electronic Tobacco Products

Proven Tobacco Control Policies Must be Prioritized to Prevent a Lifetime of Addiction for Young People

August 20, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showing the rates of adolescents who use any tobacco product has increased significantly in the last two years (19.5% in 2017 – 36.5% in 2019) and half (50.1%) of all high schoolers surveyed said they have used an electronic tobacco product. Furthermore, 32.6% of those who use electronic tobacco products identify as frequent users, meaning they’ve used the product 20 out of the previous 30 days from when the survey was taken. The rate of frequent users is highest among those who use electronic cigarettes. The survey was conducted in 2019.

The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“While consistent with previous surveys, the significant increase in the number of students who report current use of any tobacco product is alarming. The fact that half of all high schoolers surveyed say they have used an electronic tobacco product (e-cigarette) and the frequency with which current e-cigarette users are using these products shows we need to do better to keep these products out of kids’ hands. There is no safe level of use of tobacco products, and no reason for a child to be using an e-cigarette. We know tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death and there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of ever using combustible cigarettes among youth and young adults.

“The time to act is now. This stark increase in e-cigarette use and use of any tobacco product in just the last two years is unacceptable. Addressing tobacco use among our youth is paramount in the fight against cancer and efforts to reduce cancer disparities nationwide. The YRBS clearly shows we must make passing proven tobacco control policies a priority at all levels of government, including comprehensive smoke-free laws, tax increases on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and fully funding state tobacco cessation programs. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must apply strict standards, including the product’s appeal to youth, as they review applications from tobacco product manufacturers who must apply by Sept. 9 to keep their products on the market.

“At such a critical time for public health, we should be doing everything in our power to keep our communities healthy and safe. We urge the Senate to pass the House-passed Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act that would prohibit all flavored tobacco products. ACS CAN is committed to working with lawmakers at all levels of government to protect our kids from a lifetime of addiction to a product that kills more than 480,000 Americans every year.”

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