Over 2.5 Million College Students Were Current Users of Tobacco Products Last Year, Survey Finds | News

About 1 in 8 American high school students – more than 2 million in total – reported using tobacco products in the past 30 days, the vast majority of them e-cigarettes, according to results from the National Smoking Survey among young people of 2021.

For college students, that number was 1 in 25, or 470,000 in total.

On the one hand, these numbers appear to continue a decline seen from 2019 to 2020, particularly when it comes to vaping. However, the authors of the latest report caution against comparing 2021 with previous years, as data was collected differently during the pandemic to include students learning remotely. Experts say it’s unclear to what extent teenage tobacco use may have been affected by remote access and learning during this time.

Public health advocates say reducing drinking among young people is a top priority when it comes to tackling the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, given that the majority of smokers started before the age of 18.

Some of the e-cigarette survey findings were released last year, detailing the popularity of flavored products and disposable vapes. The latest analysis, a collaboration between the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration, includes a broader range of data on other tobacco products, demographics and other factors associated with their use.

Among the results: About 11% of high school students said they had vaped in the past 30 days. For cigarettes, it was just under 2% — a figure that Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, described in a statement Thursday as “historically low.”

“While these results may be impacted by the pandemic and changes in the way the survey was conducted, low youth smoking rates also continue a remarkable long-term trend,” said Myers, who does not did not participate in the report.

Yet he warned that a return to school could carry the “real risk of a resurgence of youth smoking” and urged policymakers to ensure that flavored products, known to be popular with young people, be withdrawn from the market.

Students identifying as LGBT reported more frequently that they currently use tobacco products: about 14% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students and about 19% of transgender students. These numbers are roughly double what was seen among students who did not self-identify, about 8% in both cases.

These figures were also higher among students experiencing severe psychological distress: 14.2% versus 5.5% among those reporting no distress. The authors of the latest report say it works both ways: “Studies have found that young people with mental health conditions are at increased risk of smoking cigarettes, but also that young people’s exposure to nicotine is associated to the development of mental health disorders.

Overall consumption in the past 30 days was highest among non-Hispanic white students, but the use of combustible tobacco in particular, such as cigarettes and cigars, was more prevalent among non-Hispanic black students.

Importantly, about two-thirds of current users said they were “seriously thinking about quitting,” according to the report. Even so, the authors say that several factors remained prevalent in 2021 that could have the opposite effect on these trends, including flavored products, exposure to social media and traditional marketing, and misperceptions of the harm these products cause. can cause.

“It’s telling that about two-thirds of current youth users have expressed a desire to quit tobacco products, and three-quarters of youth say they’ve seen or heard tobacco prevention advertising,” said Mitch. Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. in a statement Thursday. “But the 2021 usage data is still concerning and will be invaluable to policymakers and educators committed to protecting the next generation from tobacco-related illness and death.”


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