More than 3 million high school students report tobacco use

November 10, 2022

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Disclosures: King and Kittner report no relevant financial information.


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More than 3 million middle and high school students reported continuous tobacco use in 2022, according to findings published in MMWR.

Last year, as part of the National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2.5 million students reported using tobacco, with symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath also reported among youth users.



IDC1122Kittner_Graphic_01
Data from Park-Lee et al.

This year’s edition of the survey, which collected responses from students at 341 public and private schools from January to May, found that 3.08 million students said they had used a tobacco product in the past 30 days, nearly one in nine students. An estimated 2.51 million students were of high school age, while 530,000 were in middle school.

The survey found that e-cigarettes were the most common product among all students, with 2.55 million reporting use of such a device, followed by cigars, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. About 31% of the 3.08 million students reported using more than one tobacco product in the past 30 days.

“Multiple tobacco use among youth is of particular concern because it is associated with nicotine dependence, which increases the likelihood of persistent tobacco use in childhood,” the authors wrote.

Aside from continuous use, about a quarter of all students surveyed – 24.8% – said they had ever used a tobacco product.

The odds of using tobacco products were associated with reporting F grades, symptoms of psychological distress, identifying as LGBT, or reporting low family wealth, and current tobacco use was higher among non-Hispanic and Alaska Native students.

“The use of commercial tobacco products continues to threaten the health of our youth, and disparities in youth tobacco use persist.” Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, PhD, Member of ParliamentH, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a news release. “By addressing the factors that lead to youth tobacco use and helping youth quit, we can give our nation’s young people the best chance to live their healthiest lives.”

“It is clear that we have achieved commendable success in reducing cigarette smoking among the nation’s youth. However, with the ever-changing landscape of tobacco products, there is still more work to be done,” Brian King, PhD, MPH, director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, said in the release. “We must continue to tackle all aspects of youth tobacco use, including targeting the significant disparities that remain.

The authors stated that continued regulatory efforts for all types of tobacco products, “including new products and continued implementation of population-based tobacco control strategies combined with FDA regulation, are warranted to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use.”

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