Monday, April 20, 2015 - 3:14pm
Findings consistent with sharp increase reported in Wisconsin
The new 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more youth in the U.S. are using e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product, including conventional cigarettes.
The CDC’s survey also shows that e-cigarette use by high school students rose from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014—an increase of around 1.3 million more e-cigarettes users in just one year. The study also found that e-cigarette use increased substantially for middle school students—from 1.1% in 2013 to 3.9% in 2014 (equating to roughly 300,000 additional e-cigarette users in just one year).
The findings of the National YTS are similar to those by the 2014 Wisconsin YTS, which reported that 8% of Wisconsin high school students use e-cigarettes.
“These results are concerning, especially since nicotine is known to be harmful to adolescent brains.” said Ryan Sheahan, Coordinator for the Tobacco Free Columbia Dane County Coalition (TFCDC). “As a public health professional, it’s frustrating to see the progress we’ve made in reducing youth and adult tobacco use be threatened by the increasing popularity of these unregulated products.”
The coalition shared that heavy TV and radio advertising as well as fruit and candy flavors may be contributing to the higher youth e-cigarette usage rates. Under federal regulations, conventional cigarettes cannot be advertised on TV or radio and cannot include flavors with the exception of menthol.
Other concerns cited by the coalition included that:
- E-cigarettes do not produce vapor as the advertising suggests, but an aerosol that may contain harmful components like nicotine, ultrafine particles, heavy metals, and formaldehyde
- E-cigarettes remain unregulated, making it impossible to know what users and bystanders are exposed to when they are in use
- E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as an effective cessation device and in fact, according to one study from the American Journal of Public Health - smokers who have ever used e-cigarettes are less likely to cut back on cigarette consumption in the future.
Sheahan encouraged tobacco users to call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line for free help at 1-800-QUIT NOW. For more on local tobacco prevention and control efforts in Dane and Columbia County, or call 608-242-6297. Click here for The national YTS results