Cigarette Smoking Declines but Nicotine Use Does Not
Emerging Tobacco Products Deliver Nicotine in New Ways
by Helen Zhang, age 16
surveys show smoking habits have remained stagnant since 2011, the use of
tobacco has grown with the introduction of new products. Emerging tobacco
products such as e-cigarettes, hookahs, snus (similar to snuff in a packet) and
dissolvable tobacco (similar to cough drops) are increasing in popularity among
middle and high-school students in the United States.
recent years, smoking bans in restaurants and other public spaces have contributed
to a significantly lower rate of tobacco usage in adults. Meanwhile, a 2012
survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
indicates that 6.7% of middle-school students and 23.3% of high-school students
had used a tobacco product at least once in the previous 30 days. While these
rates are roughly the same as those reported in 2011, the use of alternative
tobacco products was drastically higher than in the previous year.
2011 and 2012, the CDC found that middle school students nearly doubled their
use of e-cigarettes, rising from 0.6% to 1.1%.
High school e-cigarette usage nearly doubled,
rising from 1.5% to 2.8%, and dissolvable tobacco use rose from 0.4% to 0.8%.
Cigar usage has also increased among youth. Many cigars are identical in size
and shape to cigarettes. However, because they are not cigarettes, they are
exempt from Food and Drug Administration restrictions on flavoring.
products may have also gained popularity because of their low cost, and recent
media coverage. Now, e-cigarettes have multiple advertisements on television,
while advertising for traditional cigarettes has been banned since 1971. Brian
King, senior scientific adviser in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health,
argues that, these products are now more easily marketed towards young
consumers. In addition, anecdotal evidence popularized in the media suggests
people can use these products to quit smoking. As a result, alternative tobacco
options may seem like a safer,, more socially acceptable method of attaining
the same effect as cigarettes.
because these products are new, “There’s not a lot of information on the
long-term health impact,” says King. “There is also evidence that nicotine –
however it may be absorbed – may adversely affect brain development among
have shown that 90% of smokers start as teenagers. A survey published in
September of 2013 discovered that one in five middle-school students, who said
they had never used conventional cigarettes, reported having used e-cigarettes.
adds, “None of these emerging products are safe alternatives to traditional
cigarette use, and efforts should be made to get kids to stop so we don’t have
a next generation of tobacco-addicted adults.”
the numbers of e-cigarette users continue to rise, it is troubling to both the
public and non-profit agencies. According to a statement from the American
Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, “It is […] disconcerting that teenagers
are increasingly turning to other products that are produced and sold without
any federal oversight.”