e-cigs (copy)

For the seventh year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students, a survey shows.

The good news: Use of tobacco products declined among U.S. middle and high school students from 2019 to 2020, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration.

The bad news: About 1 in 6 (nearly 4.5 million) students still used some type of tobacco product in 2020.

Use of tobacco products — in any form — is unsafe, according to the report, noting tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood.

The National Youth Tobacco Survey looked at the use of e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah, pipe tobacco and heated tobacco products. Heated tobacco products heat actual tobacco leaf. By contrast, e-cigarettes heat liquids that typically contain nicotine derived from tobacco, as well as flavorings and other ingredients.

The decrease was seen in the use of e-cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, the data showed. In contrast, no change occurred in current use of cigarettes, heated tobacco products, hookah or pipe tobacco during 2019—2020.

The study found that nearly 1 in 4 high school students (3.65 million) were users of any tobacco product in 2020, down about 25% from 4.7 million in 2019.

About 1 in 15 middle school students (800,000) were users of any tobacco product in 2020, down nearly 50% from about 1.5 million in 2019.

For the seventh year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students. Additionally, many youths — 1.27 million high school students and 340,000 middle schoolers — used two or more tobacco products.

“The decline in tobacco product use over the past year is a win for public health,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. “Yet, our work is far from done. Nearly 4.5 million U.S. youths still use tobacco products, putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction and other health risks.”

Key findings of the survey show:

  • For high school students, tobacco use was highest for e-cigarettes (19.6%), followed by cigars (5.0%), cigarettes (4.6%), smokeless tobacco (3.1%), hookah (2.7%), heated tobacco products (1.4%) and pipe tobacco (0.7%).
  • For middle school students, tobacco use was highest for e-cigarettes (4.7%), followed by cigarettes (1.6%), cigars (1.5%), hookah (1.3%), heated tobacco products (1.3%), smokeless tobacco (1.2%) and pipe tobacco (0.4%).
  • Among middle and high school students combined by sex, any current tobacco product use was 16.7% among males and 15.8% among females.
  • Among middle and high school students combined by race/ethnicity, any current tobacco product use was 17.8% among non-Hispanic Whites, 17.2% among Hispanics, 13.2% among non-Hispanic Blacks, and 10.1% among non-Hispanic students of other races.