Student Well-Being

E-Cigarette Use by Middle, High School Students Tripled Last Year

By Evie Blad — April 16, 2015 1 min read

Use of electronic cigarettes among middle and high school students tripled in a single year, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday.

In 2014, 13.4 percent of high school respondents to the National Youth Tobacco Survey reported using e-cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days, compared to 4.5 percent in 2013. Among middle school respondents, that figure jumped from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014, according to the survey, which is self-administered by schools to a nationally representative group of students.

“This is the first time since the survey started collecting data on e-cigarettes in 2011 that current e-cigarette use has surpassed current use of every other tobacco product overall, including conventional cigarettes,” the CDC said in a news release. “E-cigarettes were the most used tobacco product for non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic other race while cigars were the most commonly used product among non-Hispanic blacks.”

In 2014, 9.2 percent of high school students reported using traditional cigarettes in at least one of the last 30 days. Many respondents who said they used tobacco reported using multiple forms, including products like hookah pipes, the CDC said.

As Education Week reported last year, the increasing use of e-cigarettes by young people has spurred many districts to change their policies, in part because they aren’t as regulated as other products.

“Thirty-eight states prohibit the sale of the product to minors, but e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, aside from those marketed for therapeutic purposes, are unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” that story said. The FDA has proposed regulations on e-cigarettes that have not yet taken effect.

“We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement Thursday. “Adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.