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17 June 2017, 11:32 | Rex Hubbard
Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, on the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey results
The 2016 figures represent the first time the use of all tobacco products has declined among youth since the CDC started reporting this measure in 2011.
E-cigarette use among high school and middle school students has dropped for the first time in years, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
The data also show an incredible 4.7 percentage point decline in high school e-cigarette prevalence, now at 11.3 percent vs. 16 percent in 2015.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey results, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that we are well on our way to finishing smoking for good. The high school smoking rate in West Virginia is more than double the rate in California.
A separate report published in the latest MMWR adds to the evidence that e-cigarette use is associated with greater uptake of cigarette smoking among teens.
In 2014, the FDA launched "The Real Cost" campaign, its first youth tobacco prevention campaign, which has helped prevent almost 350,000 kids from smoking cigarettes, and continues to enforce important youth access restrictions, according to Gottlieb. The number who used e-cigarettes fell to 2.2 million from 3 million, while the number who used traditional cigarettes fell to 1.4 million from 1.6 million. The drop in numbers was primarily because of the lessened number of e-cigarette users among middle school and high school students. 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.
Public health officials in the USA focused on harm reduction argue policymakers could learn a lot from the British approach to tobacco addiction. "However, on balance the bad news is that we've still got 4 million teenagers using tobacco", he said.
E-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine through an inhaled aerosol, are a double-edged sword, public health experts say.
The results also showed that compared with people who had never smoked tobacco cigarettes, current smokers were more than four times more likely to consider secondhand e-cigarette vapor harmless for children, while former smokers were around twice as likely to share this opinion.
"We have some good news, and we have some bad news", said Brian King, deputy director of research translation in CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "They are the most commonly used tobacco products among youth in the USA, with more than 2.2 million youths using them".
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 unsafe to use around children.
"Seeing this change in the data trend on e-cigarettes is a big deal", she said.
Gottlieb, who previously held a financial interest in the vape shop Kure, has said publicly that certain e-cigarettes may have the potential to wean smokers off combustible cigarettes.
Cigarette smoking among middle school and high school students continued a two-decade decline, falling to the lowest level ever recorded in the CDC's 2015-2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).
Some public health researchers believe the devices could help prevent some people from starting to smoke tobacco cigarettes, or help smokers reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke or even kick the habit completely.
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