University of Michigan: Research shows teen smoking hits ‘historic lows’

Posted by Matt Rowland on

The results of a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan indicates that teen smoking rates in 2017 are plummeting at an alarming rate.  These statistics seem to contradict multiple published reports by public health organizations like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claiming that vaping is a gateway to teen smoking.

In fact, the FDA is so concerned with teen vaping that it has recently announced the launching of a new federal probe into the perceived dangers of kid-appealing e-liquids allegedly designed to attract minors to vaping.  Vaping advocates disagree, claiming that poor parenting is a contributing factor to teen vaping and smoking.  Furthermore, kids are not the only ones who buy flavored e-liquids.  Adults like them too, which can be extremely beneficial in helping potentially millions of adult smokers quit.

This year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) report shows a dramatic decrease in the number of high school students who currently smoke.  Less than 10 percent of high school seniors classify themselves as smokers, compared to over 36 percent during the peak levels of teen smoking in the mid-1990s.    

“Cigarette smoking by teens continued to decline in 2017. For the three grades combined, all measures (lifetime, 30-day, daily, and half-pack/day) are at historic lows since first measured in all three grades in 1991. Since the peak levels reached in the mid-1990s, lifetime prevalence has fallen by 71%, 30-day prevalence by 81%, daily prevalence by 86%, and current half-pack-a-day prevalence by 91%. The prevalence of smoking a half-pack-per-day in the 30 days before the survey now stands at just 0.2% for 8th graders, 0.7% for 10th graders, and 1.7% for 12th graders.”

Use of smokeless tobacco products by high schoolers is also on the decline.  The popularity of snus and other smokeless products has fallen by approximately two-thirds from 9.7 percent in 1992 to only 3.5 percent in 2017.  Even the smoking of flavored or “little cigars” is down modestly since the MTF researchers began tracking their usage.  In 2014, 5.4 percent of teens reported smoking these products within the last thirty days compared to only 3.7 percent in 2017.

Vaping research: Spinning the numbers

While vaping advocates often take issue with claims by the FDA that teen vaping is on the rise, the latest statistics from the 2017 MTF report seem to support this ideology.  While the number of teen vapers seems to be “similar in 2017 to their previous levels in 2016,” further data suggests that teens are not necessarily vaping nicotine-infused e-liquids.  In fact, the MTF report shows that about 58 percent pf vaping seniors are solely vaping zero-nicotine e-liquids.  Further data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also indicates that less than three percent of students are regular, daily vapers.  The others tend to only vape as little as one or two times per month.

Related Article: Did the CDC just confirm that vaping is not a gateway to teen smoking?

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