In an encouraging trend, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students nationwide is starting to wane.

E-cigarette use among middle and high school students nationwide declined from 3 million in 2015 to just under 2.2 million in 2016, according to new data published this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products. 

“The decrease in e-cigarette use is very promising news for the fight against tobacco,” says Kelli England Will, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics at EVMS. “It mirrors what we have been hearing from our local teen partners in our research funded by a grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. Our Teen Advisory Council has been telling us over the past year that they perceive the trend is waning in popularity. We still have a lot of work to do, but this is a welcome change after several years of steady increase.”  

The decline contributed to an overall drop in the number of middle and high school students who say they are current tobacco users from 4.7 million in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2016. 

The report found that 20.2 percent of high school students and 7.2 percent of middle school students reported current use of any tobacco product. E-cigarettes remained the most commonly used tobacco product among youth for the third consecutive year, used by 11.3 percent of high school students and 4.3 percent of middle school students. 

Although the data reflect a decline during 2015-2016, current use of any tobacco product did not change significantly during 2011–2016, because of the sharp increases in e-cigarettes and hookah use during 2011–2014. 

“Tobacco use in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe for youth,” said Corinne Graffunder, DrPH, MPH, Director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health in a news release. “Tobacco products contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain.”