Teen smoking hits record low in Virginia; teen vaping concerns remain

Posted at 5:27 PM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 17:27:55-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Teen cigarette smoking in the Commonwealth has hit an all-time low, according to a survey conducted by the Virginia Department of Health.

At just 6.5 percent, teenage smoking is Virginia is far below the national average of 7.6 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the record low numbers in Virginia, the 2017 Virginia Youth Survey found that more high school students are using alcohol, marijuana, and e-cigarettes.

“While we are heartened by the continuing downward trend of youth cigarette smoking, we remain concerned that young people are at risk of marijuana use as well as alcohol and nicotine addiction,” said Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) Executive Director Marty Kilgore.

“An integral part of the Virginia Plan for Well-Being is to reduce premature death, disease, and disability related to tobacco use among young people by preventing tobacco use and promoting quitting,” State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said. “This survey underscores the importance of collaboration and community engagement in assuring healthier behaviors in our youth and adults.”

The survey found that 5 percent of Virginia high school students currently drink alcohol, 2 percent are current marijuana users and at least 11.8 percent are current e-cigarette users.

It is unclear if the 11.8 percent of e-cigarette users includes Juul users. The survey did not include language about Juul, which teens may consider to be different from an e-cigarette.

Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration called underage use of e-vapor products an epidemic. The FDA took ‘historic action’ against retailers and manufacturers to provide plans to mitigate underage use of e-vapor products.

Tuesday, Juul announced plans to eliminate some of its social media accounts and stop most flavored products from the market as part of a plan to restrict access to minors.

The youth survey used a scientifically selected sample of more than 11,000 public and charter middle school and high school students at more than 140 schools in 55 school districts statewide during fall 2017.