Florida is on the precipice of winning the war against teen cigarette smoking. In fact, the teen smoking rate in Florida has hit a historic low. The only problem? The most recent declines in teen cigarette use are thanks to teen e-cigarette use. In fact, Florida teens' thirst for that sweet, sweet nicotine-laced e-juice has jumped substantially.
The data comes from the Department of Health's annual Florida Youth Tobacco Survey of both middle-school and high-school students. The survey asks kids if they've ever tried
The good news is that only 8.5 percent of middle-schoolers and 22.9 percent of high-schoolers have ever even tried a cigarette. Those are both at all-time lows since the survey began in 1998. That year the rates were an astounding 43.6 percent for middle-schoolers and 68.1 percent for high-schoolers.
Just 2 percent of Florida middle-schoolers are "current cigarette smokers," as are 6.9 percent of high-schoolers.
Frequent cigarette smoking youth are now almost extinct in the state. With just 0.6 percent of middle-schoolers and 2.5 percent of high-schoolers have smoke more than 20 cigarettes in the past 30 days at the time of the survey. That's down from 5.4 percent of middle-schoolers and 13.3 percent of high-schoolers in 1998.
You might remember that Gov. Lawton Chiles won a $11 billion dollar lawsuit against the tobacco industry and used that money to launch one of the most thorough anti-smoking campaigns targeted at kids in the country back in 1998. Since then Florida's youth tobacco use has plummeted and remains well below national levels.
However, in the past couple of years it appears that drops in rates of traditional cigarette smoking have more to do with the emergence of e-cigarette alternatives.
37.6 percent of high schoolers and 14.7 percent of middle schoolers have tried e-cigarettes at least once.
That's a large jump even since last year when the rates were 20.5 percent of high-schoolers and 8.5 percent for middle-schoolers.
15.8 percent of high-schoolers are considered current e-smokers and about 2.9 percent are frequent smokers, which means for the first time ever more high schoolers in Florida are regularly smoking e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes.
So, which kids are most at risk to dabble in tobacco of either the traditional or electronic varieties? Well, turns out youth tobacco is one of the actual serious white people problems.
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9.1 percent of white high-schoolers are current cigarette smokers, compared to just 6.1 percent of Hispanic youth and a mere 2.8 percent of black youths.
Meanwhile, 19.5 percent of white high-schoolers are current e-cigarette users, compared to a rate of just 14.8 percent for Hispanic student and 9.4 percent of black students.
81.5 percent of white middle-schoolers also consider themselves to be "committed non-smokers," slightly higher than both Hispanic and black students.
However, that rate plummets to just 66 percent among white high-schoolers, lower than all other groups.