CDC study — teen vaping, smoking rate slowly declining

A couple of contradictory articles here about what appears to be the same survey. Took some research, but I got to the bottom of what these numbers really mean. This CDC graphic is REALLY helpful. I recommend clicking on it to see it full size.

According to U.S. News and World Report, a new Centers for Disease Control survey showed that teen smoking rate has dropped to 9 percent, while teens are also doing fewer drugs, having less sex and … drinking less milk?

OK, the milk part was weird. The point being more kids are drinking sodas and energy drinks.

However, a story from NBC News, which appears to cite the same CDC study, says that teen use of tobacco products has dropped from 24 percent in 2011 to 20 percent today — but that 13 percent of that is from cigarettes, with the rest vaping.

This is mostly good, if not confusing news. Well, more good than bad. I see a glass half-full from the fact that when I started looking at these CDC surveys 10-12 years ago, the teen smoking rate was pushing 30 percent. Now, it’s somewhere between 9-13 percent.

The glass half-empty is that there are still kids getting addicted to nicotine, just from a different delivery system. E-cigs aren’t as bad as cigarettes, but they aren’t 100 percent benign either. It’s best if kids don’t get addicted to nicotine … period. Regardless of the delivery system.

So, I decided to look at the CDC survey directly. I HATE contradictory information like this when different reporters see different results when they look at different part of the same study.

Here’s MY take on the CDC survey (these surveys are done every two years, by the way). A little more in-depth and a little more carefully worded than the two articles:

  • There is something there that says 8.8 percent of teens have smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days, so that’s where they got 9 percent.
  • Total number of teens using a tobacco product is 19.6 percent. That’s e-cigs, smokeless tobacco, cigarettes, cigars and hookahs combined.
  • percentage of kids using e-cigs is 11.7 percent
  • There is something that says total percentage of “combustible” tobacco products — that’s cigarettes, cigars and hookahs — is 12.9 percent. I’d be willing to bet most “cigars” being smoked by kids are those Swisher Sweets.

So, it appears that both articles are right. It also showed to me that there’s some overlap between kids who smoke and kids that vape — that’s why 11.7 percent + 12.9 percent = 19.6 percent. The articles aren’t clear about that. There is a category in the study that says, “more than two types” of tobacco products. That’s roughly about 10 percent of teens. And that’s why 11.7 + 12.9 = 19.6.

Anyway, the graphic I included with this post makes it MUCH clearer. According to that graphic, the news is generally good, though it could be better.

Teen vaping has actually dropped since it hit its peak in 2014. Yayy, I’m actually heartened by that, though I’d like to see it drop faster. Total nicotine use via either e-cigs or cigarettes has dropped since 2014.

In 2014, roughly 17 percent of teens were using e-cigs, that’s now down below 12 percent.

Total nicotine uses by teens in 2014 was just above 25 percent. That figure is just under 20 percent in 2017. Smoking is down a ton, from about  18 percent (any combustible) in 2014 to 13 percent in 2017. Cigarettes are down from about 11 percent in 2014 to just under 9 percent in 2017.

I don’t know if the CDC broke down the difference between cigarettes and cigars before. I never noticed it before this year’s survey, and I’ve been perusing these CDC survey reports for a decade. But, it’s good to have the whole story. A lot more teens smoking cigars and cigarillos than I thought.

 

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