CHICAGO (Reuters) – Overall tobacco use among U.S. middle and high school students has not changed since 2011, a period in which use of electronic cigarettes increased dramatically, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.
Given that most adult smokers begin using tobacco before age 20, health officials are concerned over the lack of progress in reducing tobacco use among U.S. youth.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, 3 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2015, compared with 2.46 million in 2014.
“E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and use continues to climb,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement.
“No form of youth tobacco use is safe. Nicotine is an addictive drug and use during adolescence may cause lasting harm to brain development.”
The FDA, which currently regulates most conventional tobacco products, is finalizing regulations that would bring e-cigarettes under its authority.
Mitch Zeller, of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said the agency “remains deeply concerned” about the overall high rate at tobacco use among youth and said finalizing those regulations “is one of FDA’s highest priorities.”
Increases in e-cigarette use in 2015 were largely driven by higher use among middle school students, a group in which use of the devices climbed to 5.3 percent in 2015 from 3.9 percent in 2014. There was no change in e-cigarette use among high school students between 2014 and 2015, following a dramatic 13.4 percent increase in 2014.
Overall, data from the 2015 survey show that 4.7 million middle and high school students used at least one tobacco product in the past 30 days, and more than 2.3 million of those students used two or more tobacco products.
There was no significant change in cigarette smoking habits among middle and high school students between 2014 and 2015, with 9.3 percent of high school students and 2.3 percent of middle school students saying they smoked cigarettes.
“Given that the use of e-cigarettes is on the rise among middle and high school students and nicotine exposure from any source is dangerous for youths, it is critical that comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies for youths address all tobacco products and not just cigarettes,” study authors wrote in the CDC’s weekly Morbidity and Mortality report.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Dan Grebler)
Overall tobacco use by middle and high school students has not changed since 2011, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Data from the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that 4.7 million middle and high school students were current users (at least once in the past 30 days) of a tobacco product in 2015, and more than 2.3 million of those students were current users of two or more tobacco products. Three million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015, up from 2.46 million in 2014.
Sixteen percent of high school and 5.3 percent of middle school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015, making e-cigarettes the most commonly used tobacco product among youth for the second consecutive year. During 2011 through 2015, e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 16.0 percent among high school students and from 0.6 percent to 5.3 percent among middle school students.
From 2011 through 2015, significant decreases in current cigarette smoking occurred among youth, but there was no significant change in the prevalence of current cigarette smoking among this group during 2014 – 2015. In 2015, 9.3 percent of high school students and 2.3 percent of middle school students reported current cigarette use, making cigarettes the second-most-used tobacco product among both middle and high school students.
“E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and use continues to climb,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “No form of youth tobacco use is safe. Nicotine is an addictive drug and use during adolescence may cause lasting harm to brain development.”
Students use many forms of tobacco
In addition to e-cigarettes and cigarettes, high school students used other tobacco products:
- 8.6 percent smoked cigars,
- 7.2 percent used hookahs,
- 6.0 percent used smokeless tobacco,
- percent smoked pipe tobacco, and
- 0.6 percent smoked bidis.
After e-cigarettes and cigarettes, middle school students reported using these products:
- 2.0 percent used hookahs,
- 1.8 percent used smokeless tobacco,
- 1.6 percent smoked cigars,
- 0.4 percent smoked pipe tobacco, and
- 0.2 percent smoked bidis.
Among non-Hispanic white and Hispanic high school students, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product. Among non-Hispanic black high school students, cigars were the most commonly used tobacco product. Cigarette use was higher among non-Hispanic whites than among non-Hispanic blacks. Smokeless tobacco use was higher among non-Hispanic whites than students of other races.
“We’re very concerned that one in four high school students use tobacco, and that almost half of those use more than one product,” said Corinne Graffunder, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “We know about 90 percent of all adult smokers first try cigarettes as teens. Fully implementing proven tobacco control strategies could prevent another generation of Americans from suffering from tobacco-related diseases and premature deaths.”
FDA has regulatory authority over cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. The agency is finalizing the rule to bring additional tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, hookahs, and some or all cigars under that same authority.
“The FDA remains deeply concerned about the overall high rate at which children and adolescents use tobacco products, including novel products such as e-cigarettes and hookah,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “Finalizing the rule to bring additional products under the agency’s tobacco authority is one of our highest priorities, and we look forward to a day in the near future when such products are properly regulated and responsibly marketed.”
Regulating the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products – coupled with proven population-based strategies – can reduce youth tobacco use and initiation. These strategies include funding tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended levels, increasing prices of tobacco products, implementing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free laws, and sustaining hard-hitting media campaigns.
To learn more about quitting and preventing children from using tobacco, visit www.BeTobaccoFree.gov.
Two tobacco giants are seeing strong demand for their reboots of the e-cigarette in Japan, with Philip Morris International twice postponing a nationwide rollout and Japan Tobacco suspending shipments – both due to supply shortages.
Japan has become a key testing ground for the two companies and their new, real tobacco e-smokes as they grapple with shrinking demand for traditional cigarettes in other developed countries.
Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, has postponed the nationwide rollout of its iQOS to April 18.
“We believe that the success of iQOS commercialisation in Japan will accelerate its global expansion,” Philip Morris Japan president Paul Riley told Reuters.
Japan Tobacco CEO Mitsuomi Koizumi told an earnings briefing in February: “We have very high expectations for growth of the so-called tobacco vapor category in five years or so from now.”
The iQOS is a tobacco stick that is heated just enough to produce an aerosol but not combust. The company is betting the presence of real tobacco will make it more satisfying to smokers than existing e-cigarettes.
The new device, priced at 9,980 yen ($89), appears similar to other e-cigarettes in that it is pen-shaped and battery-powered, and is heated to release tobacco vapor.
A key distinction is the refills, sold as Marlboro HeatSticks. Most e-cigarettes sold elsewhere use nicotine-laced liquid, which is heavily regulated in Japan. A pack of 20 HeatSticks sells for 460 yen, the same as regular Marlboro cigarettes.
Philip Morris has introduced the products in major cities in Switzerland, Italy and other countries, but Japan is the first country it plans a nationwide release.
The company had originally planned to sell the product throughout Japan on March 1, but postponed the launch to the end of the month due to a potential supply shortage after it saw stronger-than-expected sales in 12 prefectures where it has been test marketing.
The company estimates the market share of Marlboro HeatSticks reached 2.4 percent in Tokyo at the end of January.
Japan Tobacco, which commands about 60 percent of Japan’s cigarette market and is the world’s third-largest tobacco maker, has also got in on the action by acquiring two overseas e-cigarette makers in the past two years.
In Japan, it has launched the Ploom TECH, priced at 4,000 yen and sold with 460-yen packs of five capsules. Ploom TECH’s selling point is that vapor generated from a liquid cartridge passes through the capsules’ granulated tobacco, creating a taste the company says is close to the real thing.
“There is definitely a need for products that are smokeless but are still satisfying as cigarettes,” said Masanao Takahashi, director at Japan Tobacco’s emerging products marketing division.
Like iQOS, Ploom TECH’s initial launch in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka proved so popular that the shipment of the device were suspended after a week due to a supply shortage.
It is currently working on a nationwide launch and is also eyeing a global expansion later this year.