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Tobacco Use High Among Eastern NC High School Students

06/15/2018 - Eastern North Carolina high school tobacco use showed a small decrease, from 30.9 percent to 30.3 percent from 2015 to 2017, based on results of the 2017 N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey, recently released by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Data also show that 18.1 percent of Eastern North Carolina high school students report using e-cigarettes, compared to 16.9 percent statewide and 11.7 percent in the National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The state survey showed e-cigarettes have been the tobacco product most frequently used by middle and high school students in North Carolina, including Eastern North Carolina, since 2015.
Eastern North Carolina youth are also more likely than youth in other parts of the state to use cigars, little cigars or cigarillos, with 15.6 percent reporting using them compared with 12.7 percent statewide.

Interim Health Director Luana Gibbs states, “Tobacco use among any population is disheartening, but a grave concern of mine is youth using these products without regard to how it is really affecting their health. Just because something looks cool, doesn’t mean it is. Tobacco use is a risk factor for so many problems, including cancer, and illness of every organ in your body.”

One brand of e-cigarettes holds more than 60 percent of the U.S. market and delivers more nicotine than most of its competitors. San Francisco-based JUUL brand’s popularity among youth may be related to the product’s resemblance to a USB flash drive, which makes it easy to conceal.

“Not only do we wrestle with the effects of tobacco use, but also with nicotine and how it is delivered. Many products appeal to our youth, including e-cigarettes and Juuls, which deliver nicotine and is highly addictive. Vaping and “juuling” may not contain tobacco, but they are still harmful and most especially to our middle and high school students, as their brains are still developing. As good stewards of our youth, we should all be mindful of the ease in which they can get these products and conceal their use of them.” states Gibbs.

Across North Carolina half of high schoolers who use tobacco and nearly half of middle schoolers who use tobacco report using more than one tobacco product, which is similar to national data.
The North Carolina survey is administered in the fall on odd-numbered years within randomly selected middle and high schools. More than 6,300 students, representative of middle and high school peers across the state and in Eastern North Carolina participated in the 2017 survey. A state-level fact sheet and other survey information can be found here.

Counties included in the Eastern North Carolina data include: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Gates, Greene, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, and Wayne.