Florida’s long campaign against youth smoking, launched under late Gov. Lawton Chiles, has resulted in a new milestone — with a record low 6.5 percent of high school students reporting having smoked cigarettes this year.
E-cigarette use, however, appears to be taking the place of conventional smokes.
New data by the Florida Department of Health shows that e-cigarette use among teens almost tripled over the past two years, with 15.8 percent of high schoolers having puffed on the nicotine-laced vapor this year.
“This alarming increase in e-cigarette use among teens has the potential to normalize smoking again after decades of hard work in Florida and across the country to reverse that norm,” said Shannon Hughes, an official with the Florida Department of Health.
So-called current cigarette smoking among youth aged 11-17 has declined sharply over the past eight years from 10.1 percent in 2007 to 3.8 percent this year, the Health Department’s data shows. “Current” is defined as lighting up at least once during the past 30 days.
But e-cigarette use is skyrocketing, the report shows.
Over the past two years, the number of kids trying e-cigarettes has tripled, from 4.3 percent in 2013 to 14.7 percent this year among middle-schoolers and from 12.1 percent in 2013 to 37.6 percent this year among high schoolers.