Survey: E-cigarette use rising among Hawaii public school teens

Date:14/12/11
Survey: E-cigarette use rising among Hawaii public school teens

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A recent study shows more Hawaii public school teens are either experimenting with or using new tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

According to the Hawaii Youth Tobacco Survey, lifetime e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 5.1 percent in 2011 to 17.6 percent in 2013, and quadrupled among middle school students, from 1.8 percent to 7.9 percent, during the same time period.

“Evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are being used by students who are not cigarette smokers,” said Tonya Lowery St. John, epidemiologist for DOH’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “More than a third of middle school students and almost a third of high school students who currently smoke e-cigarettes have never even tried a traditional cigarette.”

The study also showed increased usage of other new tobacco products, such as tobacco in water pipes or hookah and roll-your-own cigarettes.

“As a state we have made great progress to reduce tobacco use among youth, but we are seeing alarming trends in the use of non-traditional tobacco products that we need to monitor vigilantly,” said Lila Johnson, manager of the DOH Tobacco Prevention and Education Program.

Among high school current e-cigarette users, 31.7 percent have never smoked a traditional cigarette, 31.6 percent have tried them but have not smoked one in the past 30 days, and 36.7 percent have smoked both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes in the past 30 days.

Among middle school current e-cigarette users, 33.2 percent have never smoked a traditional cigarette, 38.4 percent have tried traditional cigarettes but not in the past 30 days, and 28.4 percent have smoked both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes in the past 30 days.

Compared with national YTS results, Hawaii’s youth are using e-cigarettes more than their peers on the Mainland.

In 2013, 1.1 percent of middle school students and 4.5 percent of high school students in the U.S. were current e-cigarette users, compared with 5.5 percent of middle school students and 10 percent of high school students in Hawaii. Lifetime e-cigarette use for U.S. middle school students was 3 percent and 11 percent for U.S. high school students, compared to 7.9 percent of middle school students and 17.9 percent of high school students in Hawaii.

Results also indicate that middle and high school students are seeing and hearing fewer messages about the dangers of cigarettes on TV, the Internet and radio, and are seeing fewer people smoking on TV and in movies.

However, data also showed that a significant proportion of students are receiving ads and coupons directly from tobacco companies, with 12.7 percent of middle school students and 8.8 percent of high school students reporting that they received ads directly from a tobacco company in the past 30 days through the mail, e-mail, the Internet, Facebook, Myspace or a text message. In addition, 7.9 percent of middle school students and 6.6 percent of high school students reported receiving coupons from a tobacco company through one of these vehicles in the past 30 days.

“Predatory marketing to kids is not a new tactic used by tobacco industry, despite the fact that it is illegal to advertise to market or to promote tobacco products to use,” Johnson said. “The danger, however, is that they’re continuing to push the new products, the non-combustibles that we’re seeing, particularly the e-cigarettes. This is their latest attempt and unfortunately this is happening and it’s very successful in hawaii as you can see by the data that’s come out of the Youth Tobacco Survey.”

The Hawaii Departments of Health (DOH) and Education (DOE) jointly administer the YTS, in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The YTS is a module of the Hawaii School Health Survey which is conducted biennially or on odd-numbered years among Hawaii public middle school students (grades 6-8) and high school students (grades 9-12).

Participation in the survey is voluntary. In 2013 a representative sample of 1,980 middle school students and 1,455 high school students participated in the survey. The overall participation rate among selected schools and students was 67.2 percent for middle schools and 60.4 percent for high schools.

The YTS results are weighted by CDC to represent all public school students in Hawaii. Detailed data tables by state, sex, grade and race/ethnicity can be found on the Hawaii Health Data Warehouse website.