[USA Today]

Fewer U.S. teens are smoking cigarettes, but more are getting a nicotine fix from hookahs and electronic cigarettes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports today.

Overall tobacco use among middle- and high school students last year — 6.7% and 23.3%, respectively — was about one percentage point lower than in 2011, mostly due to a decline in teens smoking cigarettes, according to CDC’s analysis of the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Yet the survey, which queried sixth- through 12th-graders, found a notable increase in those who’ve used hookahs, also known as waterpipes, and e-cigarettes — both of which aren’t federally regulated and taxed as are cigarettes. Last year, about 5.4% of high school students said they used hookahs at least once a month, up from 4.1% in 2011, and 2.8% tried e-cigarettes, up from 1.5%.

The CDC attributed the increase to lower prices for these products as well as their increased marketing and availability, and the perception that they are safer alternatives to cigarettes. It also found a slight uptick in high school students who smoked pipes and cigars, including the little ones that look like cigarettes but cost a lot less and come in candy flavors.

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