The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) was conducted among U.S. middle and high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic and revealed that youth tobacco use remains a serious public health concern. About 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported current (past 30-day) use of a tobacco product in 2021, according to new data released in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Because of the implementation of COVID-19 protocols across the country when the 2021 NYTS was conducted (January 18–May 21, 2021), the survey was administered online to allow eligible students to complete the survey at home, school, or somewhere else. While the CDC remains confident in their study results, the reporting of tobacco use might differ by the setting where the survey was completed. Therefore, these results cannot be compared with results from previous NYTS surveys that were primarily conducted on school campuses.
In collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from the 2021 NYTS. Among middle and high school students who currently used tobacco products about 1 in 3 (860,000) used at least one type of combustible tobacco product, and about 3 in 10 (740,000) used two or more tobacco products.
E-cigarettes were the most common tobacco product currently used among middle and high school students (2.06 million) in 2021. 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).
“Youth use of tobacco products is unsafe in any form – combustible, smokeless, or electronic,” said Karen Hacker, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “This report provides critical insights needed to combat this serious public health concern and help protect our nation’s youth from the harmful effects of tobacco.”