Youth Tobacco Survey Shows Less Smoking, More E-cigarette Use Among NC Teens

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by Camel City Dispatch

By Staff

The 2013 N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey, released last month, delivers both good and bad news to those working to prevent tobacco use among North Carolina students. Results show the lowest teen cigarette smoking rates ever recorded, along with a significant increase in teen use of certain non-cigarette tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and hookahs (water pipes).

kid stop smokingCigarette smoking among North Carolina middle school students dropped 40 percent from 2011 to 2013, falling from 4.2 percent to 2.5 percent. Among high school students, the drop was 13 percent, from 15.5 percent to 13.5 percent.

However, current use of electronic cigarettes among North Carolina high school students jumped by 352 percent from 1.7 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2013. Ten percent of high school students said they are considering using electronic cigarettes in the next year and 10.6 percent of high school students are considering hookah use in the next year.

“We celebrate the decline in cigarette smoking; however this trend toward other tobacco use and dual use of tobacco products is a real cause for concern,” said Dr. Ruth Petersen, chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section in the N.C Division of Public Health. “Nicotine in these tobacco products is highly addictive, and there is evidence that using nicotine during adolescence may harm brain development.

“It is clear that young people do not understand the addictive nature or the potential harms of these products. I keep hearing of young people around the state describing e-cigarettes as nothing but flavored water vapor, when that is far from the truth. Hookah pens, which are e-cigarettes made to look like writing pens, appear to be becoming quite popular with younger teens.”

Other findings include:
– Overall tobacco use among high school students increased from 25.8 percent to 29.7 percent from 2011 to 2013.
– Hookah use more than doubled among high school students from 2011 to 2013, from 3.6 percent to 6.1 percent.
– 19.1 percent of young tobacco users surveyed report using two or more forms of tobacco, such as hookahs or e-cigarettes.

Full results from the most recent Youth Tobacco Survey, and results from previous years, may be found HERE. For data specific to the Piedmont, click HERE.

The FDA has provided the following tips for parents on how to talk to your children about the dangers of smoking.

  • Share the Facts: Knowledge is power – give youth the facts about tobacco so that they can make good choices. For FDA resources on this, click HERE
  • Talk Early and Often: Tobacco use can start as early as middle school—today, more than 600,000 middle school students smoke cigarettes4—so it’s never too early to begin the conversation about tobacco’s dangers. Make your child understand that you want them to stay safe and expect them to avoid using tobacco.
  • Use Everyday Opportunities to Talk and Listen: There are plenty of other opportunities every day to bring up the topic of tobacco use and its risks. The next time you see someone smoking in public, take a moment to discuss how it harms the body. Tell them, “Tobacco is highly addictive and toxic to your body. It can harm your lungs, heart and other body parts.”
  • Be Honest, Direct, and Open: Create an environment where both you and your children can talk openly about tobacco use. If friends or relatives have died from tobacco-related illnesses, explain to your kids how tobacco caused their death. Make sure they fully understand the risks of tobacco use. One way to help them learn is through play, like in this cause-and-effect activity showing the potential risks of cigarette smoking.
  • Make it a Two-Way Conversation: Talk with, not at, your child. Listen carefully and actively to what your child says and encourage them to ask questions and share their feelings and concerns.
  • Set a Good Example: Children of parents who smoke are more likely to smoke in the future.5 If you smoke, don’t use tobacco in your children’s presence and don’t leave it where they can easily get it. Please consider trying to quit smoking today.
  • Set Clear Rules: Children should be given clear and consistent rules on not using tobacco as they grow up. Learn more about setting rules from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Help Your Child Learn to Say “No”: Adolescents and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to social and environmental influences to use tobacco.6 As a parent, you can help your children learn to overcome these influences. Help them create a plan for how to say “no.”

To see a infographic on Hookahs used for smoking tobacco, click HERE. Parents should note that hookahs can be used to smoke non-tobacco products such as molasses, honey or glycerin based “shisha” but are rarely, if ever used to smoke marijuana.

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