If Electronic Cigarettes are a Gateway to Smoking, then Why Were Youth Smoking Rates at an All-Time Low in 2013?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is telling the public that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to youth smoking. The CDC has alarmed the public about a concerning doubling of the use of electronic cigarettes by teenagers from 2011 to 2012. Although I pointed out that most of this use occurred among smokers, the CDC nevertheless concluded that electronic cigarettes are leading to increased smoking rates among youth.
Late last month, the University of Michigan released the results of the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey, a national study of youths in grades 8, 10, and 12. Despite the CDC’s sirens about how e-cigarettes are leading to an increase in youth smoking, the data show that youth smoking rates reached a record low in 2013.
As summarized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: “overall youth smoking declined significantly in 2013, and smoking rates fell to record lows for all three grades surveyed (grades 8, 10 and 12). This is the third year in a row that this survey has found a significant annual decline in youth smoking, which is highly encouraging after several years in which progress had nearly stalled. For all three grades combined, the percentage of students who reported smoking cigarettes in the past month fell from 10.6 percent in 2012 to 9.6 percent in 2013. Smoking declined from 17.1 to 16.3 percent among 12th graders, from 10.8 to 9.1 percent among 10th graders and from 4.9 to 4.5 percent among 8th graders. The declines were statistically significantly for 10th graders and for all three grades combined.”