*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
E-cigarettes have obliterated past progress in reducing tobacco product use among teenagers, U.S. health officials said recently.
About 4.9 million middle and high school students were current users of a tobacco product in 2018, up from 3.6 million in 2017, according to results from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey.
All told, more than 1 in 4 high school students and about 1 in 14 middle school students used a tobacco product in 2018, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Researchers chalk this increase up entirely to e-cigarettes, noting that no significant change was found in the use in any other tobacco product — including traditional tobacco cigarettes.
“The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use. It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement.
Kids who use e-cigarettes could be more likely to progress to smoking tobacco after becoming hooked on nicotine, according to previous research cited by the CDC.
The nicotine in e-cigarettes also pose other health hazards, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director.
“Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, including harmful effects on learning, memory and attention,” Schuchat said. Nicotine also primes the brain for addiction to other substances, she added.
There were 1.5 million more young e-cigarette users in 2018 than 2017, and those who vaped did so more often, the CDC found.
E-cigarette use increased to nearly 21 percent among high schoolers and 5 percent among middle schoolers in 2018, up from about 12 percent and 3 percent in 2017, respectively.
The proportion of high schoolers who vaped at least 20 of the past 30 days increased to 28 percent in 2018 from 20 percent the year before, the CDC added.
For the fifth year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among high schoolers. Cigarettes (8 percent) were next most common, followed by cigars (7 percent), smokeless tobacco (6 percent), hookah (4 percent), and pipe tobacco (1 percent).
The findings were published Feb. 11 in the CDC publication Vital Signs.