Smoking Prevention in Children

September 27, 2016

The number of children that smoke cigarettes is down, but the number using other tobacco products is up. The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) in 2014, claimed that this was the case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC as well as the FDA, co-conducted the survey.

Chief of epidemiology at FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Benjamin J. Apelberg, Ph.D said that this is the only nationally representative survey of high school and middle school students focused on tobacco use. The results of the survey provided a snapshot of what high school and middle school students are using and trends that are emerging over time.

The findings include:

  • In 2104, one in thirteen middle school students and one on four high school students said that they had been regular tobacco users, meaning that had used one or more tobacco products in the previous thirty days.
  • During the survey the then 4.6 million youth tobacco users, 2.4 million were using e-cigarettes.
  • The percentage of students using cigarettes decreased 15.8% to 9.2% between 2011 and 2014.
  • Hookah and e-cigarette use increased drastically between 2011 and 2014.
  • Around 2.2 million students reported using two or more tobacco products in 2014.

The survey started to collect e-cigarette use in 2011, but by 2014, their use surpassed every other tobacco product. This includes even regular cigarette use. High school and middle school children are using novel products like hookahs and e-cigarettes in larger numbers and many are using more than one tobacco product.

Epidemiologist Catherine Corey of the FDA say this is both good and bad. Cigarette smoking is decreasing, but hookah and e-cigarette use is increasing and it undermines the progress in the reduction of tobacco use.

Nicotine Can Impact the Developing Brain

Nicotine is highly addictive and it’s dangerous for children. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a hookah, cigarette, cigar or an e-cigarette. When the brain is still developing and adolescent is in a vulnerable position when it comes to nicotine use. Research shows that exposure to nicotine can be harmful because there are many other chemicals present in tobacco products that are linked to disease. Children and youth should not be using tobacco products in any form at all.

The FDA has regulatory authority over cigarette tobacco, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and roll-your own tobacco. The FDA is working on finalizing a rule that would extend its reach to other products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product like cigars, hookahs, and electronic cigarettes. The FDA wants a minimum age of 18 for anyone looking to buy tobacco.

The new findings strengthen the evidence provided by science that novel tobacco products like hookahs and e-cigarettes have appeal to youth and that there needs to be prevention efforts to help stop smoking and cut down all use of tobacco products not just regular cigarettes.

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