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E-Cigarette Use Among NC High Schoolers Still On The Rise

The number of high schoolers using emerging tobacco products like e-cigarettes remains on the rise, and nearly a quarter of high schoolers say they would consider trying e-cigarettes in the next year.
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The number of high schoolers using emerging tobacco products like e-cigarettes remains on the rise, and nearly a quarter of high schoolers say they would consider trying e-cigarettes in the next year.

More high school students in the state say they are using e-cigarettes, or plan to start in the next year.

This is the third time in a row that the North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey showed a rise in high schoolers using emerging tobacco products - including e-cigarettes, dissolvable tobacco and hookah, among others. It's the highest usage recorded since the survey started asking students about the products in 2011. Overall tobacco use among high schoolers also inched up as a result. 

Results from 2017 NC Youth Tobacco Survey
Courtesy of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Results from 2017 NC Youth Tobacco Survey

Results on overall tobacco use from 2017 NC Youth Tobacco Survey
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Results on overall tobacco use from 2017 NC Youth Tobacco Survey

About 17 percent of high schoolers said they have used e-cigarettes, and nearly a quarter said they would consider using them in the next year. 

Results on e-cigarette use from 2017 NC Youth Tobacco Survey
Courtesy of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Results on e-cigarette use from 2017 NC Youth Tobacco Survey

Public health officials say this is concerning, because the products can have as much or more of the highly-addictive nicotine found in traditional cigarettes.

"We know based on the data and the science that nicotine exposure can harm brain development, especially when used during adolescence," said Susan Kansagra of the North Carolina Department of Public Health. "We also know that use of e-cigarettes can lead to the use of conventional cigarettes."

One in three middle school students who vaped said they started because a friend or family member also used e-cigarettes, while high schoolers' top reason for vaping was because the products come in different flavors. 

The North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey is given to students across the state every other year. The anonmyous survey received 6,333 responses from a representative sample of students this year. 

Photo credit: https://vaping360.com/

Copyright 2018 North Carolina Public Radio

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Policy Reporter, a fellowship position supported by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. She has an M.A. from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Media & Journalism and a B.A. in history and anthropology from Indiana University.
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