Smoking, tobacco use among U.S. teens continues to drop: study

By Xu Jing

CHICAGO, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Despite the increase in use of e-cigarettes among adolescents, cigarette and smokeless tobacco prevalence declined more rapidly between 2012 and 2019 than in previous periods, according to a study posted on the website of the University of Michigan (UM) on Wednesday.

Utilizing data from the nationally representative Monitoring the Future survey at UM from 1991 to 2019, the researchers examined the use prevalence of tobacco products in the last 30 days among key sociodemographic groups, identifying change of trend years for U.S. secondary and high schools.

They found that daily smoking prevalence among 12th grade boys increased 4.9 percent annually from 1991 to 1998, but saw annual declines of 8 percent between 1998 and 2006 and 1.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. From 2012 to 2019, prevalence declined at a 17-percent annual rate. Overall, daily smoking prevalence among 12th graders fell to about 2 percent by 2019.

Similar results were observed for both boys and girls in all grades and for both African American and white teens. Smokeless tobacco use showed more variability through 2012, followed by consistent declines in the last five years. Data also shows similar rapid decreases in cigar and cigarillo use among adolescents in recent years, suggesting a general pattern across traditional tobacco products.

Researchers said the results are important because while e-cigarettes are concerning on their own, there have been concerns that the increase in use of e-cigarettes could result in an uptick in the use of other tobacco products, including cigarette smoking that could potentially upend the declines seen the last couple of decades.

"While the increases in e-cigarettes are indeed concerning and is something we need to address and reverse, the decreases in other tobacco products, in particular, cigarettes -- the most concerning form of tobacco use -- are accelerating," said lead researcher Rafael Meza, associate professor of epidemiology and global health at UM's School of Public Health.

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