June is graduation season for many high school students. Let’s remind young tobacco users that graduation is a big transition and a natural opportunity to quit. Nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it is inhaled from an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette, or cigar. Nicotine exposure at a young age can cause lasting harm to brain development and promote addiction, and it can potentially lead to sustained tobacco use.
In fact, the Surgeon General’s 50th Anniversary report states that nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start before age 18. So it’s important to remind adults that we can further reduce youth tobacco use by continuing to implement proven strategies and regulate tobacco products.
A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) provides current statistics (2011–2014) on tobacco use among middle and high school students. In 2014, an estimated 4.6 million middle and high school students reported using at least one tobacco product; of these, 2.2 million students reported using two or more tobacco products.