Tobacco Usage In Public Schools

It has been said that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. With all the statistics that are out, I can see why medical experts say that. Something else that research keeps showing is that nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood. That is rather sad, in my humble opinion. New research data shows that nearly half of high school students had tried tobacco in 2013 and nearly a quarter were current users, according to an analysis of the 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you think of the word “Tobacco”? A wide fraction of people would say smoking. Curiosity about tobacco products is a predictor of future susceptibility, experimentation, and regular use. Statistically, cigarette smoking has declined in recent years which explain why the use of some other tobacco products has increased. In fact; nearly half of all tobacco consumers use two or more tobacco products, according to a survey conducted in partnership with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Data from the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), nationally representative sample of students in grades 6–12 from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, were used to estimate the consistent use of e-cigarettes, conventional cigarettes, and the use of both. The inquiry revealed an astonishing change in the view of tobacco product use among U.S. middle and high school students. The data indicated a growing public health issue concerning the use of non-cigarette tobacco products by youth, as well as the role of addiction in adolescent tobacco use.

Other than seeing a family member or friend, children in these grade levels are continuously exposed to tobacco on TV (via shows & movies), periodicals (magazines & Newspapers), and online (video’s & websites).  Tobacco marketing helps increase curiosity in tobacco products. Even though we have warnings that try to prevent and detour minors from consuming tobacco products, our efforts are going unnoticed to a portion of middle and high school students. What the survey showed researchers was that around 23% of high school students, alone, currently use a tobacco product. “Nine out of ten smokers tried their first cigarette by age 18,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. Other important discoveries included:

  • When it comes to current Tobacco usage, the ratio of middle schools students is 1out of 15 and high school students is 1 in 4. The majority of students (in both middle and high school) who had used tobacco during the past 30 days (57.9 percent) reported using more than one product.
  • Closely following cigarettes, cigars are the most widely used tobacco product consumed by those in the study. Around 40 percent of non-Hispanic black high school students (39.4 percent) reported ever having smoked cigars. Believe it or not, about 1 in 5 middle school and high school students who had never used tobacco products admitted they were curious about the use of cigars. Cigars are currently not regulated by FDA, allowing some to be manufactured with fruit and candy flavors that are normally prohibited in cigarettes, and then sold in small quantities tempting the youth to buy them at a low cost.
  • Nearly half of all middle and high school students (41.2%) reported being aware of Hookah.  It’s estimated that about 8.9% of the students have used Hookah in the past and another 3.6% are currently using it.
  • Half of middle and high school students (approximately 13.1 million) were aware of e-cigarettes. Around 6.8% (1.8 million) have used e-cigarettes while about 2.1% (close to 550,000) admitted to having used an e-cigarette in the past thirty days. On top of that, 1 out of 3 students in this survey perceived e-cigarettes as being less harmful than conventional cigarettes. Some even indicated they were more likely to use e-cigarettes if given a choice.
  • Among middle and high school cigarette, cigar, and smokeless tobacco users, more than half (52.2%) reported at least one symptom of tobacco dependence, representing 2.1 million students.

This survey has provided important information in such detail that it might help researchers develop other methods to discourage underage smoking, if not smoking altogether. It’s shown that symptoms of tobacco dependence can arise even among recent-onset and intermittent adolescent users.  Another indication from within this study shown students who revealed dependence symptoms were likely to be female, likely to have started using tobacco at an earlier age, will use more than one type of tobacco product, and possibly prone to use tobacco at a higher frequency.

Over half (52.8 percent) of middle and high school students who reported having used tobacco in the past 30 days were seriously thinking about quitting the use of all tobacco products—and a similar proportion (51.5 percent) reported failing to quit after having tried during the last year. With all these statistics, the students who say they use more than one tobacco product are at higher risk to continue smoking into adulthood. On average, about three-quarter of all high school smokers continue smoking after graduation and well into adulthood.

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