By Ariella Monti
Flavored tobacco seems to have hooked young smokers.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, about 70 percent of middle and high school students who have used a tobacco product in the past 30 days have used at least one flavored tobacco product.
Like studies before it, the CDC report finds that e-cigarettes are one of the top tobacco products used by teens. Data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that in the past 30 days, 63 percent of current tobacco users used a flavored e-cigarette. The same number also used a flavored cigar. Flavored hookah tobacco was used by 61 percent, and 59 percent had used flavored smokeless tobacco. Menthol cigarettes hold strong at 54 percent, and 42 percent used flavored tobacco in pipes.
Overall though, 18 percent of all high school students reported using at least one flavored product in the past 30 days. About 6 percent reported using only non-flavored tobacco products. E-cigarettes were the most commonly used flavored tobacco product among high school students, at about 9 percent.
“Flavored tobacco products are enticing a new generation of America’s youth into nicotine addiction, condemning many of them to tobacco-related disease and early death,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “Nicotine is not safe for the developing brain, and we must do everything we can to protect kids from a lifetime of tobacco use and nicotine dependence.”
The CDC says that sustained efforts to implement proven tobacco-control programs and policies are necessary to prevent all forms of tobacco use, including use of flavored tobacco products, among U.S. youth. For example, several local jurisdictions, including New York City, Chicago, Providence (Rhode Island) and Santa Clara (California), have acted to limit or restrict sales of flavored tobacco products in these communities.
Additional strategies to reduce youth tobacco use include increasing the price of tobacco products, adopting comprehensive smoke-free laws, implementing national public education media campaigns and raising the minimum age of purchase for all tobacco products to 21.
Source: CDC release