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E-cigarette use now higher than cigarette use among teens

The  results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future study – an annual University of Michigan survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders—showed both positive and negative trends in teen substance use. Teen alcohol use and prescription pain medicine misuse have decreased, but teens show high rates of e-cigarette use – even higher than the use of traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Tobacco cigarette use among teens fell from 10 percent in 2013 to 8 percent in 2014. But e-cigarette use, measured for the first time in the 2014 Monitoring the Future study, was higher for all age groups:

E-cigarette use in the past 30 days, by grade level:

  • 8th graders: 9%
  • 10th graders: 16%
  • 12th graders: 17%

This apparent preference among teens for e-cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes may be due to a perception that e-cigarettes are safer. Just 15 percent of 8th graders in the Monitoring the Future study thought there was a great risk of harm in using e-cigarettes, comparing with 62 percent of 8th graders who think there is a great risk of harm in smoking one of more packs of tobacco cigarettes daily. Read more about the Monitoring the Future data here: monitoringthefuture.org.

Smoking and tobacco use among children and teens is a major health concern among U.S. adults. In the 2014 NPCH Report of the top 10 health concerns for children in their communities, adults ranked smoking & tobacco use their number 2 concern overall.  We also asked adults in the National Poll on Children’s Health about e-cigarettes and nearly half of parents were concerned their child would try e-cigarettes. Full report: Adults worry e-cigarettes will encourage kids to start smoking tobacco.

Adults in the National Poll on Children’s Health also expressed strong support for laws to regulate e-cigarettes:

Figure 1: Public support for electronic cigarette laws
View full size image | See more health infographics

What do you think?
Are you concerned your teens might try e-cigarettes? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.