Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable diseases in the USA, and the majority of adult cigarette smokers first try cigarettes before they are 18 years old, said the CDC. E-cigarettes also remain to be the most used tobacco product for the third year in a row among high school students at 11.3 percent and middle school students at 4.3 percent.
"For smokers trying to quit, it can be a great public health benefit", said Nancy Rigotti, director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on youth and tobacco. But she cautioned that the picture was very uneven among subgroups, with the high school smoking rate in West Virginia more than double the rate in California, for example.
That jumped to 16 percent in 2015, and it's become more common than cigarette smoking.
The decline in cigarette use follows a broad array of public health campaigns and coincides with the rise of vaping.
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Henry also said that declines in tobacco use also are partly due to increases in state and local tobacco taxes, as well as the inclusion of e-cigarettes in antismoking ordinances barring smoking in restaurants, bars and other sites.
Among all middle school students in 2016, the most commonly used products after e-cigarettes were: cigarettes (2.2 percent), cigars (2.2 percent), smokeless tobacco (2.2 percent), hookah (2.0 percent), pipe tobacco (0.7 percent), and bidis (0.3 percent). These yearly surveys are given to middle and high school students in the US, who then voluntarily complete the printed questionnaire. According to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, each day more than 2,500 new kids under the age of 18 start smoking and almost 400 turn daily smokers from being occasional ones.
"While these latest numbers are encouraging, it is critical that we work to ensure this downward trend continues over the long term across all tobacco products", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. While they don't contain some of the harmful substances in conventional cigarettes, he said, the inhaled vapor usually contains nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm the adolescent brain, as well as ultrafine particulates and heavy metals.
The findings are in line with the University of Michigan's annual Monitoring the Future survey, which showed a drop in youth vaping in 2016 down to 13 percent of high school students. That drop also led to a decrease in overall tobacco usage for the age group, from 4.7 million in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2016. They say that e-cigarettes are safer than conventional cigarettes and should not be targeted.
In addition, declines were also seen during 2015-2016 among high school students who used two or more tobacco products, any combustible tobacco products, and hookah. The other forms of tobacco used by students include cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco and bidis.
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A previous study conducted by the CDC also found that although the U.S. Surgeon General said that e-cigarette vapor might expose children to nicotine and harmful chemicals, one in three adults are not sure if the devices are risky to use around children.
Reynolds spokeswoman Jane Seccombe said the recent decline in youth use of all types of tobacco products "is really good news". "They are the most commonly used tobacco products among youth in the US, with more than 2.2 million youths using them".
What's yet to be seen is whether last year's drop in E-cigarettes was an anomaly. In 2016, of all teens who now used tobacco, 47 percent of high school students and 42 percent of middle school students said they used two or more products.
He said the agency had issued more than 4,000 warning letters to retailers for selling e-cigarettes, cigars or hookah tobacco to minors since youth access restrictions went into effect last August.
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