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Tobacco use has doubled in Cuyahoga County middle school students since 2016

Posted at 10:32 PM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-07 09:32:29-05

CLEVELAND — A survey released by the Centers for Disease Control indicates 6.2 million high school and middle students are now using some form of tobacco products.

Statistics from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health back-up the increase in tobacco product use, especially among middle school students.

Its report indicated tobacco product use went from 5.4 percent of middle school students in 2016 to 10.1 percent in 2018, with vaping accounting for a large part of that increase.

Romona Brazile, the Deputy Director of Prevention and Wellness with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, said the dramatic rise in tobacco use among middle school students is an alarming health concern.

“It’s very troubling because we know about the long-term impacts of tobacco use,” Brazile said. “So we’re talking about youth who are in the prime of their brain development. The brain develops until the age of 25, so this is a very bad time to be introducing chemicals. So whether it’s smoking, or we’re talking about Black & Mild, little cigars, vaping, e-cigarettes, they’re all dangerous.”

Cleveland Health Committee Chairman Blaine Griffin said the city sent out an alert on the student/nicotine epidemic six weeks ago, but said more awareness and information must be directed to parents to slow down this growing issue.

“70 percent of these high school students that are starting to use these types of products. I think that it’s imperative that we step up our education.” Griffin said. “This is something that is a crisis, people ought to listen. Tobacco use for these young kids that are starting way too early, and it’s effecting all of their different health outcomes.”

The CDC reported:

One-in-three high school students (4.7 million) and about one-in-eight middle school students (1.5 million) are current tobacco users.

For the sixth year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school (27.5 percent) and middle school students (10.5 percent).

Tobacco products used by middle and high school students were not limited to e-cigarettes, but also included cigars, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, and pipe tobacco.

In 2019, among middle and high school students, more than half (57.8 percent) of current tobacco product users reported seriously thinking about quitting all tobacco products.

In addition, 57.5 percent reported they had stopped using all tobacco products for one or more days because they were trying to quit. Increasing successful quit attempts could complement prevention efforts to reduce tobacco product use among youths.

1-800-QUIT-NOW is a toll-free number operated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that will connect you directly to your state’s tobacco quitline.