Most of today's adult tobacco users started before they were 18 years old. Youth nicotine or tobacco use in any form, whether smoked, smokeless "vaped" (e-cigarettes or "vaping"), is not safe. Today, electronic cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product in youth, and one survey found that other nicotine containing products, such as gummies, lozenges or pouches may be the second most commonly used kind of product. These products are not Food and Drug Administration-(FDA) approved quit smoking nicotine replacement medications for tobacco cessation. Instead, they are a new group of commercial oral nicotine products often advertised as tobacco free and marketed to youth as available in fruit and dessert flavors, in digital campaigns and themes implying minimal harm.
We have taken steps to reduce youth tobacco use, but it is still a big problem. All tobacco products, including most e-cigarettes, contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development in youth. People who start using tobacco at an early age are more likely to develop an addiction than those who start at a later age, and kids who use vapor products are more likely to go on to smoke cigarettes.
Why Do Kids Start Using Tobacco?
Parents, social pressure, advertising, stigma—there are different reasons a young person might try tobacco. Learn the reasons why some kids start and how to help them be tobacco-free.
How to Keep Kids Tobacco-Free
Keeping youth from starting is critical and they need your help. Youth tobacco use can be prevented by families, schools, communities and policymakers joining together. For example:
- Parents can set a good example for their kids by not using tobacco and keeping their homes tobacco-free.
- Schools can provide tobacco intervention programs (such as INDEPTH) to educate students about the dangers of tobacco and tobacco cessation programs to help young people.
- States can pass legislation to increase taxes on tobacco products, pass and implement comprehensive smokefree indoor air laws, and limit minors' access to tobacco products through raising the age of purchase and restricting flavors.
What You Need to Know about E-Cigarettes
The Surgeon General reports e-cigarette use among youth is now an epidemic. Learn about e-cigarettes and get downloadable resources for parents, schools and teens.
Page last updated: August 25, 2022