Recently, on December 17, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published a report in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in which they shared that current tobacco products use declined among U.S. middle and high school students from 2019 to 2020—driven by decreases in e-cigarette, cigar, and smokeless tobacco use. However, the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) data analysis also found that about 1 in 6 (nearly 4.5 million) students were current users of some type of tobacco product in 2020.
“The decline in tobacco product use over the past year is a win for public health,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD. “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.”
Tobacco Products Use Statistics
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States; nearly all tobacco product use begins during youth and young adulthood. CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed data from the 2019 and 2020 National Youth Tobacco Surveys (NYTS) to determine changes in the current (past 30-day) use of seven tobacco products among U.S. middle (grades 6–8) and high (grades 9–12) school students.
In 2020, current use of any tobacco product was reported by 16.2% (4.47 million) of all students, including 23.6% (3.65 million) of high school and 6.7% (800,000) of middle school students. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school (19.6%; 3.02 million) and middle school (4.7%; 550,000) students.
For the 7th year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students. Additionally, many youths used multiple tobacco products; among current tobacco product users, about 1 in 3 high school students (1.27 million) and about 2 in 5 middle school students (340,000) used two or more tobacco products in 2020.
CDC and FDA reported about key findings of the research:
- Among high school students, current tobacco product 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%).
- Among middle school students, current tobacco product 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.
- Among middle and high school students combined by sexual identity, any current tobacco product use was 25.5% among those identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual; 15.1% among those identifying as heterosexual; and 11.1% among those reporting “not sure” about their sexual identity.
“These findings demonstrate success in reducing youth use of tobacco overall, while also revealing changes in use patterns that will inform policymakers,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.
“We remain very concerned about the overall tobacco use rates for young people, including the nearly 3.6 million youth who currently use e-cigarettes. FDA will continue to monitor the marketplace, expand our public education efforts, and use our regulatory authority to further ensure all tobacco products, and e-cigarettes in particular, are not marketed to, sold to, or used by kids.”