A survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that about 6.2 million middle and high school students in the U.S. used one or more tobacco products in 2019.
CDC said the new National Youth Tobacco Survey found that about one in three high school students (4.7 million) and about one in eight middle school students (1.5 million) have used some type of tobacco product in the last 30 days.
Of the total number, 2.1 million used two or more tobacco products, while more than half, or 57.8%, said they were seriously thinking about quitting all tobacco products.
E-cigarettes were the most commonly used product among high school and middle school students for the sixth consecutive year, followed by cigars, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookahs and pipe tobacco, according to the CDC.
The survey also showed that among the factors that influence youth tobacco product use are advertising and promotions, flavored tobacco products, curiosity and misperceptions of harm.
In a bid to address the issue, the CDC said there is a need for comprehensive, sustained, evidence-based tobacco control strategies, coupled with regulation of tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration.
Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Human Health and Services and acting FDA commissioner, said that they will continue to develop policies that will prevent children from using harmful tobacco products.
"In addition, we will continue taking other actions to address this shocking epidemic of youth use, including aggressive enforcement and compliance efforts and evidence-based public education – which includes investing in campaigns to educate youth about the many dangers of e-cigarette use including addiction, behavioral disorders, and other health risks," Giroir said.
On Nov. 19, the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce passed a bill that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products and lifts the minimum purchasing age to 21.
Subsequently, the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services dropped a proposal to set a maximum nicotine level in cigarettes, which would have helped limit the addictiveness of the most toxic and widely used tobacco products.