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CDC Reports: Fewer Teens are Smoking Cigarettes, but E-Cigarettes and Hookahs Are on the Rise

Update Date: Nov 15, 2013 07:45 AM EST
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Several reports published recently have found that young children and teenagers have been turning to alternative smoking options that are cheaper and more accessible. In an earlier report, researchers found that more adolescents are smoking flavored cigars and cigarillos. In a newer report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the researchers are reporting that cigarette use in teenagers has declined over the years. However, the agency also found that teenagers have been using e-cigarettes and hookahs more often.

The CDC's report analyzed data from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which surveyed children from the sixth-grade all the way up to 12th grade. They reported that overall, the percentages of children from middle school and high school that used tobacco were 6.7 and 23.3. These percentages were about one percent lower than the rates in 2011. The report also stated that 14 percent of high school students smoked in 2012. In 2011 and 2000, the rates were 15.8 percent and 28 percent respectively.

Despite these drops, the researchers found there was an increase in the use of hookahs and e-cigarettes. These products are not federally regulated and taxed. The report stated that in 2012, 5.4 percent of high school students reported using hookahs at least once a month. In 2011, that percentage was 4.1. For e-cigarette use in high school teenagers, the percentage of them that tried this product increased from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent from 2011 to 2012.

"This report raises a red flag about newer tobacco products," said CDC Director Tom Frieden according to USA Today. "Cigars and hookah tobacco are smoked tobacco - addictive and deadly. We need effective action to protect our kids from addiction to nicotine."

The agency believes that since hookahs and e-cigarettes are relatively cheaper than cigarettes, which are taxed, children and teenagers might find them more accessible. Furthermore, since these products are not regulated, they can market to younger children a lot easier. Despite the fact that hookahs and e-cigarettes are not regulated, it does not mean that they are safe to use.

The report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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