New study: More than 3 million middle and high school students currently use tobacco products

E-cigarettes were the most commonly used product for the 9th year in a row

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBT) — A study from the FDA and CDC found that more than 11% of students in middle and high school use a tobacco product.

The study — which used data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey — found that 3.08 million students (2.51 million high school, 530,000 middle school) reported using a tobacco product within the previous 30 days of taking the survey. The majority of those surveyed used e-cigarettes, followed by cigars and cigarettes.

American Indian or Alaska Native reported the highest percentage of overall tobacco use (13.5%). Black students reported the highest percentage of combustible product use such as cigarettes (5.7%) and cigars (3.3%). White students reported the highest percentage use of e-cigarettes (11%). The study pointed to greater exposure to tobacco marketing and greater tobacco retail outlet density in racial and ethnic minority communities to some disparities in tobacco use.

Other reported factors in higher use percentages included failing grades in school, psychological distress, having identified as transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual, and “low family affluence”.

“Commercial tobacco product use continues to threaten the health of our nation’s youth, and disparities in youth tobacco product use persist,” said Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “By addressing the factors that lead to youth tobacco product use and helping youth to quit, we can give our nation’s young people the best opportunity to live their healthiest lives.”

Health officials said that changes in methodology limit their ability to compare these figures to years past, but efforts to reduce tobacco use are having an effect.

“It’s clear we’ve made commendable progress in reducing cigarette smoking among our nation’s youth. However, with an ever-changing tobacco product landscape, there’s still more work to be done,” said Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “We must continue to tackle all forms of tobacco product use among youth, including meaningfully addressing the notable disparities that continue to persist.”

Commercial tobacco product use remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. Nearly all tobacco product use begins during youth and young adulthood.