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Youth and Tobacco Use
Nearly 90 percent of smokers begin smoking by their 18th birthday, while kids who remain smoke-free in high school and college are more likely to remain smoke-free for life. If youth smoking continues at the current rate, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today. Source

girl at tableKeeping our schools tobacco-free helps keep our kids tobacco free.
Since the implementation of a comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program in North Dakota, over 90% of schools have comprehensive tobacco-free policies.

View the 10 requirements for a comprehensive tobacco-free school policy.
Learn more about North Dakota's youth tobacco use rates here.

Modern Day Cigarettes

From 2011 to 2017, cigarette smoking declined approximately 4.3 percent in middle school, and 15.8 percent in high school. However, other nicotine-delivering products in the form of e-cigarettes have become increasingly normalized among youth, peaking at an all-time high in 2018. 
The latest data shows a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students from 2017-2018. 
The quick growth in use among teens, emerging sales trends and growing concerns from parents and teachers has resulted in the FDA now referring to the use of e-cigarettes (vaping and juuling) by youth as an epidemic. And, while e-cigarettes are often marketed as a ‘safe alternative’ to smoking cigarettes, they are not FDA approved and contain known carcinogens as well as highly-addictive nicotine.

  •  Ninety-nine percent of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, but recent studies show that most of the youth using these products are unaware of the addictive powers of nicotine and what it can do to a developing brain.
  • JUUL, the most common e-cigarette among youth, has about 2.5 times as much nicotine in one ‘pod’ as a high-nicotine cigarette. Source
  • Right now, teens, 15-17, have over 16 times greater odds of using JUUL than those between the ages of 25 and 34. Source

“The younger the developing brain is exposed to nicotine, the stronger and more rapid the addiction. The earlier you become addicted, the harder it is to quit. Addiction to nicotine at a young age actually causes brain remodeling, changing the threshold for addiction to other substances. In other words, kids who use nicotine earlier are more likely to fall in love with other drugs later on.” Source
Tobacco will kill 1 in 3 kids who start smoking. We know big tobacco targets our youth, but we CAN stand up to them and protect our kids. Raising the price of tobacco so youth can't afford it, increasing the tobacco (purchase) age to 21 and limiting slick advertising that appeals to youth will save lives.

Find out more about what you can do to prevent youth tobacco use.