There is great news out of the Gem State, youth use of tobacco and vapor products continues to decline, with 2021 seeing some of the lowest rates ever.
According to the Idaho Healthy Youth Survey, in 2021, among youth in Idaho, 8.2% had used tobacco products in their lifetime and only 17.5% reported ever-use of e-cigarettes. Among 6th and 8th graders, 3.5% reported ever using combustible cigarettes and 9.1% reported ever-use of e-cigarettes. Among 10th and 12th graders, 13.2% reported ever-use of combustible cigarettes and 26.2% reported ever trying e-cigarettes.
Regarding current use, defined as having used a substance on at least one occasion in the 30 days prior to the survey, in 2021, 2.1% had smoked a cigarette and only 8.8% reported using e-cigarettes. Among 6th and 8th graders, 1% reported current cigarette use and only 3.3% reported currently vaping. Among 10th and 12th graders, 3.5% reported currently using cigarettes and 14.3% reported current e-cigarette use.
Since 2019, among all Idaho youth, lifetime use of tobacco and e-cigarettes has declined by 42.3% and 33.5%, respectively, and current use of combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes has declined by 56.3% and 39.7%, respectively. Among 6th and 8th graders, current combustible use has declined by 47.2% between 2019 and 2021 and e-cigarette use by 44.4%. Among 10th and 12th graders, combustible cigarette use has declined by 59.2% and vapor use by 40.2%.
Among youths that reported using e-cigarettes, the survey asked about reasons for use. Despite many policymakers seeking to ban flavored vapor products to stem youth vaping, youths, including ones in Idaho, are not overwhelmingly citing flavors as a reason for using e-cigarettes.
In 2021, among all Idaho students reporting they had used an e-cigarette, 44.4% cited using them because a friend or family member had and only 21.3% cited flavors. Among 6th and 8th graders, 53.6% cited friends/family for use and 15.5% cited flavors. Among 10th and 12th graders, 42.9% cited friends or family while only 22.7% cited flavors as a reason for e-cigarette use.
The Idaho findings are similar to results in national youth tobacco surveys, which indicate youth are using e-cigarettes for many other reasons than flavors.
As policymakers move forward to address youth use of both tobacco and vapor products, it is imperative that they are both aware of state and national data indicating youth use is declining in both Idaho and the U.S. and that flavors are not contributing to youth use.
This is part of a blog series of state analyses examining recent youth tobacco and vapor surveys.
Lindsey Stroud is a Visiting Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, Director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s Consumer Center, and a board member with the American Vapor Manufacturers Association.