Cigarette use among U.S. teens hits all-time low

By Kaitlyn Frey,

Cigarette smoking among teens in the United States has hit its lowest rate for the first time in over 20 years.

Health officials have been conducting the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey every two years since 1991, which measures the percentage of high school students that smoke cigarettes as well as other potentially dangerous activities. As of 2013, only 15.7 percent of teens were current smokers, which is down from 36.4 percent during the peak smoking year of 1997, according to USA Today,

TIME reports that this landmark statistic means the U.S. government has reached its goal of lowering the teen smoking rate to less than 16 percent six years before the goal year of 2020.

“I think the bottom line is that our teens are choosing health,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told USA Today.

However, this may not be completely true.

This past fall, the CDC reported that e-cigarette use among teens doubled in just one year—from 3.3 percent in 2011 to 6.8 percent in 2012. While the rate of e-cigarette use is still relatively low, the increased use among teenagers is a negative pattern to some.

“Everyone thinks they are right and the logical thing is that nobody knows. This is a huge stakes issue, because the proliferation of e-cigs has the potential to either reduce the cigarette problem or increase it over time among kids,” Dr. Kenneth Warner, professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told TIME.

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