The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 11.3% (3.08 million) of U.S. middle and high school students reported current use of tobacco products in 2022.
The study released on Nov. 10 found that the majority of the self-reported tobacco use was in high school students (2.51 million) followed by middle school students (530,000)
In addition, the study assessed eight commercial tobacco products. E-cigarettes — for the ninth consecutive year — was the most commonly used tobacco product among all students (2.55 million), followed by cigars (500,000), cigarettes (440,000), smokeless tobacco (330,000), hookah (290,000), nicotine pouches (280,000), heated tobacco products (260,000), and pipe tobacco (150,000).
The agencies said the term “tobacco product,” as used in this report, refers to commercial tobacco products and not to the sacred and traditional use of tobacco by some American Indian communities.
“Commercial tobacco product use continues to threaten the health of our nation’s youth, and disparities in youth tobacco product use persist,” said Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.
“By addressing the factors that lead to youth tobacco product use and helping youth to quit, we can give our nation’s young people the best opportunity to live their healthiest lives.”
Among all race and ethnicity groups, American Indian or Alaska Native students had the highest percentage of tobacco product use. In contrast, White students reported the highest rate of e-cigarette use.
In addition, approximately one million youth reported using any combustible tobacco product; Black students reported the highest percentage of combustible tobacco product use, including cigar use.
According to the CDC, other groups with a higher percentage of tobacco product use were those reporting grades of mostly Fs; those reporting severe symptoms of psychological distress; those who identified as transgender or as lesbian, gay, or bisexual; and those with low family affluence.
They added that many other factors contribute to youth tobacco product use, including flavors, marketing, and misperceptions of harm. In addition, most youth who use tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, want to quit.
This study’s findings suggest continuing disparities in tobacco product use can be attributed to greater exposure to tobacco promotion and advertising and greater tobacco retail outlet density in racial and ethnic minority communities, among other systemic factors.
Those other factors include social determinants of health, which are conditions where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life risks and outcomes.
The CDC said there are several ongoing efforts at the national, state, and local levels to help reduce youth tobacco product use.
They include enforcing the federal minimum age of sale of 21 years for all tobacco product types; FDA’s ongoing actions against sales of unauthorized e-cigarettes; state and community restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products; efforts to raise the price and prohibit public indoor use of tobacco products; media campaigns and other education efforts that warn about the dangers of tobacco product use.
“It’s clear we’ve made commendable progress in reducing cigarette smoking among our nation’s youth. However, with an ever-changing tobacco product landscape, there’s still more work to be done,” said Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
“We must continue to tackle all forms of tobacco product use among youth, including meaningfully addressing the notable disparities that continue to persist.”