Teen smoking down, but a new concern has arrived

December 5, 2013

We missed the Great American Smokeout two weeks ago, but we saw some reassuring data in its wake: Tobacco use among America’s children - high school and middle school - is steadily declining.

From 2011 to 2012, high school cigarette use dropped from 15.8 percent to 14 percent. Middle school tobacco use dropped from 7.5 percent to 6.7 percent.

No state breakdown was available, but in the last year surveyed, North Carolina’s high school smoking rate was around the national average.

There’s still something to worry about, though: “Electronic” cigarette use among teenagers is on the rise. In the 2011-2012 survey of high school students, it nearly doubled, from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent. Those smokeless cigarettes are trendy. At least they spare the user real smoke, but by vaporizing a nicotine-laden solution that the “smoker” inhales, they nevertheless are addicting the users. It’s an addiction that’s among the hardest to kick - ask any smoker who’s tried.

The overall declines in teen smoking are gratifying and proof that anti-smoking efforts are paying off. But the rise in electronic-cigarette use tells us this is not the time to stop those programs.

— Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer