According to a new report released yesterday (15th June 2017) by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of teenagers who use e-cigarettes and other tobacco products is on the decline for the first time in years.
The report looks at the results of the National Youth Tobacco Surveys from 2011 to 2016 and arrived at this conclusion. The survey included American middle and high school students who were given out questionnaires to be filled in voluntarily.
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It was seen from the results of the analysis of the reports that from 2015 to 2016 the rate of adolescents and high schoolers that use e-cigarettes, hookahs and other tobacco products that are combustible, has dropped significantly.
The results showed that 11.3 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2016 compared to 16% using these e-cigarettes in 2015. The e-cigarette use in 2011 interestingly was only 1.5% from where it had risen to 16% in 2015. This decrease is the first since 2011 says the CDC. In 2016 around 8% high school students smoked cigarettes and around 20% used other forms of tobacco such as hookahs, cigars, pipes, leaf wrapped cigarettes called bidis and e-cigarettes. These are lowest since 2011 says the report. Among middle schoolers, the rate of use of e-cigarettes dropped from 5% in 2015 to 4% in 2016.
Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the CDC's Office of Smoking and Health and one of the authors of the report says that this report is both “good news” and “bad”. The good news obviously is the decline that can be seen from this analysis and the bad news is the existing number of American youngsters who are still using tobacco products that is estimated to be around 3.9 million.
Over the last five years more kids have started using e-cigarettes and hookah. This means that the overall usage of tobacco products has not actually declined from 2011 to 2016. At the end of the analysis, 20% of the high schoolers and 7% of the middle schoolers who participated in the analysis were using tobacco products in 2016 say the authorities.
However other experts believe any declining trend with respect to tobacco usage is heartening and cause for optimism. While this may be a good start, it needs sustainability and maintenance until the levels are well within control.
According to the CDC, this decrease in numbers of smokers among teenagers is in part a result of the various preventive strategies that have been adopted to prevent and control tobacco use. The Food and Drug Administration, FDA, for example runs an education campaign “The Real Cost”. This shows the harmful effects of smoking on people using television commercials and is believed to have stopped 350,000 kids and youth from taking up smoking since it was launched in 2014. There are in addition smoke-free zones and policies, restriction of access to tobacco by the youth and other similar measures that serve as deterrents to smoking.
Experts suggest that youth with their developing brains are particularly at risk when it comes to long term effects of nicotine when consumed from such young age. E-cigarettes once thought safer are no longer considered any better. In addition use of e-cigarettes is associated with use of other forms of tobacco, alcohol and drugs among the youth. According to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, each day more than 2,500 new kids under the age of 18 start smoking and nearly 400 turn daily smokers from being occasional ones.