Youth tobacco use increased last year, erasing progress that had been made in previous years to reduce adolescent and teen tobacco use. According to a recently released “Vital Signs” report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.9 million middle and high school students were current users (used in the past 30 days) of some type of tobacco product in 2018, up from 3.6 million in 2017.
The 36 percent increase in youth tobacco use has been driven by the popularity of e-cigarettes, according to the report. With the exception of e-cigarettes, no change was found in the use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes. There were 1.5 million more youth e-cigarette users in 2018 than 2017, and those who were using e-cigarettes were using them more often, as was reported in November 2018. Frequent use (more than 20 days in the past 30 days) of e-cigarettes increased from 20 percent in 2017 to 28 percent in 2018 among current high school e-cigarette users.
More than 1 in 4 (27 percent) high school students and 7 percent of middle school students regularly used a tobacco product in 2018. For the fifth year in a row, e-cigarettes (20.8 percent) were the most commonly used tobacco product among high schoolers, followed by cigarettes (8.1 percent), cigars (7.6 percent), smokeless tobacco (5.9 percent), hookah (4.1 percent), and pipe tobacco (1.1 percent). Among middle schoolers, e-cigarettes (4.9 percent) were also the most commonly used tobacco product, followed by cigarettes and smokeless tobacco (1.8 for each), cigars (1.6 percent), hookah (1.2 percent), and pipe tobacco (0.3 percent).
Many youth tobacco product users are also using multiple products. Among current tobacco users, about 2 in 5 (1.68 million) high school students and 1 in 3 (270,000) middle school students used two or more tobacco products in 2018. The most commonly used tobacco product combination was e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes among both middle and high school students.