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2.55 million middle and high school students use some type of tobacco product

E-cigarettes were young smokers’ most commonly used product

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The latest analysis of smoking habits among U.S. youths describes 2.55 million middle school and high school students as users of some type of tobacco product (combustible, smokeless or electronic). That equates to about 13 percent of high school students and 4 percent of middle school students.

The findings are from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, run jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. They stem from data from a nationally representative sample of 20,413 students from 279 public and private schools.

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E-cigarettes (especially flavored ones) were found to be young smokers’ most commonly used product, followed by cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products and pipe tobacco.

The number of users grew when the students were asked if they had ever used these products. Then, more than 6.5 million youths said yes — 34 percent of high school and 11 percent of middle school students.

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Curiosity and peer pressure were often cited as their reason for first trying e-cigarettes, but those who use e-cigarettes said they do so to deal with anxiety, stress or depression or to achieve the “high or buzz” that comes from nicotine, which is addictive.

Health experts agree that smoking comes with a wide range of negative health effects. It can harm nearly every organ in the body and lead to lung and oral cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, blood clots, vision problems and more. It is described as the leading cause of preventable deaths.

The number of youths who smoke constitutes a serious public health issue, according to the CDC, and could lead to millions of today’s teens dying prematurely from a smoking-related disease.

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