Press release from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services:

The 2013 N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey, released Wednesday, delivers both good and bad news to those working to prevent tobacco use among North Carolina students. Results show the lowest teen cigarette smoking rates ever recorded, along with a significant increase in teen use of certain non-cigarette tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and hookahs (water pipes).

Cigarette smoking among North Carolina middle school students dropped 40 percent from 2011 to 2013, falling from 4.2 percent to 2.5 percent. Among high school students, the drop was 13 percent, from 15.5 percent to 13.5 percent.

However, current use of electronic cigarettes among North Carolina high school students jumped by 352 percent from 1.7 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2013. Ten percent of high school students said they are considering using electronic cigarettes in the next year and 10.6 percent of high school students are considering hookah use in the next year.

“We celebrate the decline in cigarette smoking; however this trend toward other tobacco use and dual use of tobacco products is a real cause for concern,” said Dr. Ruth Petersen, chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section in the N.C Division of Public Health. “Nicotine in these tobacco products is highly addictive, and there is evidence that using nicotine during adolescence may harm brain development.

“It is clear that young people do not understand the addictive nature or the potential harms of these products. I keep hearing of young people around the state describing e-cigarettes as nothing but flavored water vapor, when that is far from the truth. Hookah pens, which are e-cigarettes made to look like writing pens, appear to be becoming quite popular with younger teens.”

Other findings include:

  • Overall tobacco use among high school students increased from 25.8 percent to 29.7 percent from 2011 to 2013.
  • Hookah use more than doubled among high school students from 2011 to 2013, from 3.6 percent to 6.1 percent.
  • 19.1 percent of young tobacco users surveyed report using two or more forms of tobacco, such as hookahs or e-cigarettes.

Full results from the most recent Youth Tobacco Survey, and results from previous years, may be found at

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Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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