New CDC Data Show More Than 6 Million Middle & High School Students Using Tobacco Products

News Release, American Heart Association

Washington, D.C., December 5, 2019 – The National Youth Tobacco Survey results released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), highlight the depth of tobacco use by our nation’s middle and high school students and the overwhelming preference for e-cigarettes.

The report shows that 23 percent of middle and high school students – a total of 6.2 million youth – have used a tobacco product in the past 30 days. E-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product currently used by 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students followed in order by cigars, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, and pipe tobacco. The report also details how young people are targeted by the tobacco industry, with nearly 9 out of 10 middle and high school students (22.9 million) reporting exposure to advertisements for tobacco products, 69.3 percent of which reported exposure to e-cigarette marketing specifically.

The American Heart Association recently launched a major three-pronged initiative to battle the growing epidemic of youth e-cigarette use addressing nicotine addiction through an unparalleled scientific research investment, policy and advocacy development and support for students and school leaders in communities across the country. Learn more at QuitLying.org.

The American Heart Association released the following statement in response to the report:

“This report underscores the epidemic of youth tobacco use in our nation, which is fueled by the use of e-cigarettes, and the need for prompt action. While Big Tobacco continues to market e-cigarettes to kids and lie about the health threats of these products, the numbers tell the real story. Most of the young people surveyed said they had been exposed to ads and promotions from the tobacco industry. With nearly 9 out of 10 youth reporting they’ve seen these ads; it is clear that the tobacco industry continues with its predatory targeting of our youth.

“We urge the FDA to take steps to crack down on tobacco companies’ aggressive targeting of children, including:

  • Immediately removing flavored e-cigarettes from the market;
  • Banning all other flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes;
  • Prohibiting all marketing practices, including those on social media, that are shown to appeal to children;
  • Suspending online sales of e-cigarettes until effective age verification mechanisms are established; and
  • Enforcing rules that prevent the sale of products that were not commercially marketed as of August 8, 2016, or were modified after that date, without premarket review.

“This report is further evidence that the tobacco industry is succeeding in addicting a new generation to nicotine. Absent immediate and urgent action, the epidemic of youth tobacco use will further spiral into an even greater public health crisis.”


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