A million and a half more middle and high school students used e-cigarettes last year compared to 2017, according to newly released findings from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
Among high school students, the percentage who use e-cigarettes went from 11.7 in 2017 to 20.8 percent in 2018 – a 78 percent rise. During the same period, the share of middle school students using e-cigarettes increased from 3.3 percent to 4.9 percent, an overall rise of 48 percent, according to figures released jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and the National Cancer Institute.
The study examined the use of tobacco products such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, hookah tobacco, bidi and e-cigarettes. The use of combustible tobacco products among youths remained constant, but e-cigarette use showed increases.
Twenty-eight percent of high school students used e-cigarettes for at least 20 days in 2018, compared to 20 percent in 2017. And 68 percent of those attending high school in 2018 used flavored e-cigarettes, such as mint or chocolate, compared to 61 percent a year earlier.
Just over 27 percent of high school students were using some kind of tobacco product, while 7.2 percent of middle school students used some form of tobacco, the analysis found.
In total, nearly 5 million youths nationwide used tobacco products, and 40 percent of them used two or more types, the survey found. But the most common tobacco products used by those in middle and high schools are e-cigarettes, with an estimated 3.6 million student users nationwide, researchers reported.
Common reasons for cited by students who begin using e-cigarettes include having a friend or family member who engages in the practice; the availability of a range of flavors; and their taking the view that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other tobacco products.