The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced that more than 30% of LA County high school students have reported ever using e-cigarette products and 10% of high school students regularly use e-cigarette products according to the latest data from the 2017-18 California Student Tobacco Survey and the California Healthy Kids Survey.
According to the Department of Public Health, the figure is up from 6.4% last year. E-cigarettes used for vaping were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school students, while cigarette smoking prevalence for high school students in Los Angeles County reached a historic low of 1.7%.
“A new generation has become addicted to nicotine through flavored vape products like e-cigarettes,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “The epidemic of our youth becoming addicted to nicotine by flavors and flavored tobacco is unacceptable, and we will work to reverse this trend as we partner with others to ensure a tobacco-free generation.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the younger a person is when they start to use tobacco, the more difficult it is to quit. Ninety percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Flavored tobacco products are driving youth experimentation; more than 80 percent of youth who ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product. To reverse the increasing use of e-cigarettes among youth, CDC recommends state and local government to implement a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The survey findings highlight:
- 6% of current high school students reported using any tobacco products with e-cigarette use accounting for the majority of current tobacco users with ten percent;
- 83% of current high school student tobacco users reported using a flavored tobacco product;
- 61% of current high school student tobacco users bought e-cigarettes from vape shops;
- Most current high school student tobacco users reported using a flavored tobacco product; and,
- Fruit and/or sweet were the most popular reported flavors for most tobacco products.
Selling any tobacco products to youth is illegal. Retailers in 46 cities in Los Angeles County and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County are required to obtain a license to sell tobacco products and can have licenses revoked if found selling to minors. In 2018, over 20% of licensed stores in unincorporated Los Angeles County sold tobacco products to minors. In California, 35 cities and counties have prohibited the sales of flavored tobacco products.
The 2017–18 California Student Tobacco Survey (CSTS) was administered to 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students from September 2017 to June 2018. Schools were randomly selected within Los Angeles County. The project was conducted by the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the 2017–18 academic year, 28,071 students from 75 schools in Los Angeles County participated in the survey.