The use of tobacco among teens has been a problem for generations, but the tides may finally be turning. The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of June 2017 reveals that teen smoking is in decline. Around 20 percent of high school students admitted to having used tobacco products recently, mostly e-cigarettes, but smoking and vaping seem to be declining in popularity among teens according to NBC News.
Cigarette Use Declining
Teen smoking involving traditional cigarettes is falling off, with just 8 percent of high school students using this standard tobacco product based on the CDC report. This number is down from more than 28 percent in previous years. Additionally, 7.7 percent of teens admitted to smoking cigars, and less than 10 percent used two or more tobacco products.
The Dying-Off of E-Cigarettes
While 3 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2015, this number fell to just 2.2 million in 2016. This trending cigarette alternative may have fewer harmful byproducts than traditional cigarettes, but it still contains highly addictive nicotine, which can harm teens' developing brains. Plus, the problem extends beyond high school students as 4.3 percent of middle school students admitted to vaping, says NBC News. Although e-cigarettes have been the most popular tobacco product among teens since 2014, the downward trend signals overall decline in tobacco use. As of the CDC survey, 11 percent of teens had vaped in the past 30 days, down from 16 percent in 2015.
The Fight to End Teen Tobacco Use
The CDC and FDA have been consistently battling the teen smoking problem, and the reports show these departments' efforts are making leeway. While the control of the FDA over tobacco regulation is very limited, the department has been responsible for important campaigns such as The Real Cost, which helped curb teen smoking among 350,000 individuals.
Unfortunately, these key efforts to end smoking may be under threat. The 2018 budget proposal from President Trump would eliminate the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, a vital tool for fighting teen smoking and general tobacco use. The major budget cuts would also downsize state funding for anti-smoking initiatives. While some measures in recent years are helping the anti-smoking cause in the United States, such as the fact that some states and hundreds of cities are raising the minimum age for tobacco sale to 21, more effort may be needed to prevent a backslide in the coming years.
An overall decrease in teen smoking, both with traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, is a hopeful sign for the future. However, citizens need to work together to ensure budget cuts from the Trump Administration don't interfere with the decline of teen smoking.
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