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Teens continue to take health risks by using tobacco

Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 2:22 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows, despite risks, tobacco use remains a serious public health concern for millions of America’s teenagers.

About 2.55 million middle and high school students used tobacco in the past 30 days, according to the survey. E-cigarettes were the most common tobacco product used by teens, (2.06 million). 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).

Dr. Cara Hamilton, a pediatrician with Black Hills Pediatrics, says the teen years is when a child can develop a serious addiction and long-term problems. “Children who already have lung problems like asthma will tend to have much worse trouble when it comes to smoking and vaping and have more trouble with their lungs because of that,” Hamilton explained.

Hamilton suggests keeping an open line of communication with your child on smoking and tobacco use so you can keep an eye out for potentially harmful behavior. “If you’re seeing your child kind of step away from you, or where they are less communicative, maybe hiding out in their room more often, or around the house less often, certainly if you get the smell of smoke on them, just question them about it and try to do it in a way that’s conducive for open conversation,” Hamilton said.

The tobacco survey noted that many factors influenced teens, including peer use, curiosity, and exposure to tobacco product marketing.

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