CDC MMWR

Teen Tobacco Use Dropped Significantly From 2015 to 2016

June 22, 2017 02:39 pm News Staff

Fewer middle- and high-school students said they had used a tobacco product in the past 30 days in 2016 than in 2015 -- dropping from 4.7 million students in 2015(www.cdc.gov) to 3.9 million the following year.(www.cdc.gov)

[Boy smoking a cigarette]

That's according to a new CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that examined data culled from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) data sets for 2011 through 2016 and published by the CDC and the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. Those data were compared with the previous year's MMWR report that used 2011-2015 NYTS data. In each case, researchers looked at the use of seven tobacco products among students in grades six through 12.

The observed decline in tobacco product use was driven by a significant plunge in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use among both middle- and high-school students. Among middle-school students, e-cigarette use decreased from 5.3 percent in 2015 to 4.3 percent in 2016. For high-school students, the decline was from 16.0 percent to 11.3 percent. Between the two groups, that translates to an overall drop in raw numbers from 3 million students in 2015 to about 2.2 million the following year.

Story highlights
  • Fewer middle- and high-school students reported having used a tobacco product in the past 30 days in 2016 than in 2015.
  • Specifically, the number dropped from 4.7 million students in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2016.
  • This decline appears to have been driven by a significant drop in electronic cigarette use among these students, says a new CDC report.

Reductions were also seen in the number of high-school students who used two or more tobacco products in 2016, as well as in those who used any combustible tobacco products and those who used hookahs.

"Far too many young people are still using tobacco products, so we must continue to prioritize proven strategies to protect our youth from this preventable health risk," said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., in a June 15 news release.(www.cdc.gov)

Additional MMWR Findings

In 2016, 20.2 percent of high-school students, or an estimated 3.05 million individuals, and 7.2 percent of middle-school students, or about 850,000, surveyed reported current tobacco use. Among those current tobacco product users, 47.2 percent of high-school and 42.4 percent of middle-school students used two or more tobacco products.

E-cigarettes were the single most commonly used tobacco product among both high-school (11.3 percent) and middle-school (4.3 percent) students who were current users.

Other highlights of this research include:

  • Among all high-school students in 2016, the most commonly used products after e-cigarettes were combustible cigarettes (8 percent), cigars (7.7 percent), smokeless tobacco (5.8 percent), hookah (4.8 percent), pipe tobacco (1.4 percent) and bidis (0.5 percent).
  • Among middle-school students, the most commonly used products after e-cigarettes were combustible cigarettes (2.2 percent), cigars (2.2 percent), smokeless tobacco (2.2 percent), hookah (2.0 percent), pipe tobacco (0.7 percent) and bidis (0.3 percent).
  • Among non-Hispanic white and Hispanic high-school students, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product, while non-Hispanic black high-school students most commonly used cigars.
  • Cigarette use was higher among non-Hispanic whites than among non-Hispanic blacks.
  • Smokeless tobacco use was higher among non-Hispanic whites than other races.

Continuing Reduction in Tobacco Use

Although combustible tobacco product use declined from 2011 to 2016, the CDC said students reporting current use of any tobacco product didn't change significantly during this period. The agency attributed these results to the sharp increase in e-cigarette and hookah use from 2011-2014, which offset the recent across-the-board reductions.

The CDC also said tobacco prevention and control strategies at the national, state and local levels have likely contributed to the reduction in tobacco use seen in this data, particularly in e-cigarettes. These efforts include restricting access to youth for tobacco products, smoke-free policies (including for e-cigarettes) and media campaigns warning about youth tobacco use.

"While these latest numbers are encouraging, it is critical that we work to ensure this downward trend continues over the long term across all tobacco products," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., in the release. "The FDA has invested heavily in compelling, science-based education campaigns, such as 'The Real Cost,'(www.fda.gov) that have already helped prevent nearly 350,000 kids from smoking cigarettes and continues to enforce important youth access restrictions. We plan to build on these vital efforts to reduce tobacco-related disease and death."

Last summer, the FDA also began enforcing its new tobacco deeming rule, which gave it jurisdiction over more tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco. According to the MMWR report, the agency's expanded regulation of the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products should further bolster efforts to prevent and control tobacco use.

Finally, the report said continued surveillance of all forms of youth tobacco product use is important to help determine whether the current downward trend in youth tobacco use continues.

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