CDC Releases Youth Tobacco Survey Results
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the results of the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) this week, finding that approximately 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students report current (past 30-day) use of a tobacco product in 2021.
The NYTS was conducted among U.S. middle and high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic in an online format, allowing eligible students to complete the survey at home, school, or other location. The CDC notes, because of the change in settings, the 2021 NYTS survey results cannot be compared with results from previous NYTS surveys that were primarily conducted on school campuses.
According to the data, electronic cigarettes were the most common tobacco product currently used among middle and high school students (2.06 million) in 2021. This was followed by cigarettes (410,000), cigars (380,000), smokeless tobacco (240,000), hookahs (220,000), nicotine pouches (200,000), heated tobacco products (170,000), and pipe tobacco (80,000).
The CDC notes disparities in tobacco use persist among subgroups of youth. These include:
- Among middle and high school students combined, current use of any tobacco product was higher among students who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (14.2 percent) than those who identified as heterosexual (7.9 percent) and those who were “not sure” about their sexual identify (5.5 percent); and higher among students who identified as transgender (18.9 percent) compared to those not transgender (8.2 percent)
- Current use of any tobacco product was higher among students who had severe (14.2 percent), moderate (11.2 percent), or mild (9.6 percent) of symptoms of psychological distress compared to those with no psychological distress (5.5 percent)
- Among all race and ethnicity groups, non-Hispanic Black students report the highest prevalence of current combustible tobacco product use (5.2 percent) and specifically cigar use (3.1 percent)
Further, the CDC notes that among the approximately 2.55 million middle and high school students who currently used any tobacco product, most (about 8 in 10 or 1.95 million) reported using flavored tobacco products in the past 30 days. Approximately 76 percent of students in 2021 reported exposure to tobacco product marketing through traditional media (e.g., newspapers or magazines) and approximately 74 percent of students who used social media had ever seen e-cigarette-related posts or content.
Of the 2.55 million students who currently used any tobacco product, 65.3 percent reported they were seriously thinking about quitting all tobacco products. Further, 60.2 percent of students who currently used tobacco products reported that they stopped using all tobacco products for one or more days in the past 12 months because they were trying to quit.
The full 2021 NYTS survey results are available here.