One in six U.S. teens used tobacco in 2020, government figures show

Tobacco use among teens has declined but e-cigarette use remains high, according to new CDC and FDA estimates. Photo by ghcassel/Pixabay
Tobacco use among teens has declined but e-cigarette use remains high, according to new CDC and FDA estimates. Photo by ghcassel/Pixabay

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Roughly one in six teens across the United Stated used some type of tobacco product in 2020, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This means that nearly 4.5 million teens nationally used traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes or chewing tobacco this year, officials estimated.


The relatively high level of product use persists, despite recent research suggesting that the number of teens who smoke cigarettes or opt for chewing tobacco has declined in recent years.

As a result, the estimates indicate that teen tobacco use is now being fueled by e-cigarettes or vaping, officials said.

"These findings demonstrate success in reducing youth use of tobacco overall, while also revealing changes in use patterns that will inform policymakers," U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said in a statement.

"We remain very concerned about the overall tobacco use rates for young people, including the nearly 3.6 million youth who currently use e-cigarettes."

An analysis released earlier this year by the CDC found that roughly one in three teens vaped in 2019.


The estimates released Thursday are based on data on more than 14,000 adolescents and teens in grades six through 12 who participated in the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a CDC- and FDA-led project that measures consumption trends among young people.

Among respondents, nearly one in four high school students, or 3.65 million teens, used any tobacco product in 2020, down about 25% from 2019, officials said.

About one in 15 middle-school students, or 800,000 adolescents and teens, reported using a tobacco product in 2020, down nearly 50% from 2019, the data showed.

However, for the seventh consecutive year, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product, at nearly 20%, among both middle and high school students, according to officials.

In addition, about one-third of all high-school students and 40% of all middle-school students used two or more tobacco products in 2020, the data showed.

The FDA's "Real Cost" campaign, launched in 2014, aims to discourage teens from starting a tobacco-use habit.

The campaign has been tailored in recent years to focus on vaping, in response to the changing tobacco-use trends among young people.

"[The] FDA will continue to monitor the marketplace, expand our public education efforts and use our regulatory authority to further ensure all tobacco products, and e-cigarettes in particular, are not marketed to, sold to or used by kids," Hahn said.


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