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.
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.
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.