I’ve been extremely skeptical of the “progress” made with smoking rates, especially teen smoking rates, over the past couple of years. According to the CDC, we reached a record low 14% smoking rate in 2017, highlighted by a record low 9% smoking rate for high-school students. But here’s the thing. It only accounted for traditional cigarettes. As I mentioned a few months ago, I suspect teen smoking rates are spiking on back of e-cig use. Now we have the numbers in and the answer is potentially alarming.
- 3 million, or 20% of high school students are smoking e-cigs
- Teen e-cig use is up 75% year over year
So, more than twice as many high-school students are smoking e-cigs compared to traditional cigarettes with no end in sight as of now. This creates a total teen smoking rate of approximately 29%! The last time the high school smoking rate was as high as nearly 29% was 1977. That means e-cigs have undone all of the effective progress made to reduce smoking rates over the prior 40 years inside of four.
Many will argue, inside the industry, that they’re healthier alternatives than traditional cigarettes, and without the 2nd hand smoke and myriad of chemicals found in traditional cigarettes that may well be the case. However, those leading agencies won’t say as much. The bigger problem is where a near generation of nicotine addicted teens go from here.
For now, in the first few years of the e-cig boom, 40% of teenage e-cig users convert to traditional cigarettes. If that held we’d have a smoking rate for traditional cigarettes that’s 33% higher than the current reporting over the next decade. What's worse is that it won't including e-cig use. There are plenty of reasons for parents to be concerned.
Photo By: Getty Images/Martina Paraninfi