There’s welcoming data for the Hoosier State, as youth tobacco and vapor product use continue to decline.

According to the Indiana Youth Survey, in 2022, 3.4% of 7th and 8th graders and 6.9% of high schoolers reported ever using combustible cigarettes. Among mentioned middle schoolers, ever-use of cigarettes has declined by 28% since 2020, and by 45.5% since 2018, when 6.2% reported ever trying combustible cigarettes. Among high schoolers, ever using combustible cigarettes has decreased by 30.5% since 2020 and by 52.4% since 2022 when 14.5% reported trying cigarettes.

Monthly use, defined as having used a tobacco or vapor product on at least one occasion in the 30 days prior to the survey, has declined as well. In 2022, only 1.3% of 7th and 8th graders and 2.4% of high school students reported monthly use of combustible cigarettes. This is a 44.7% and 48.4% decline, respectively, since 2020 when 2.4% of mentioned middle schoolers and 4.7% of high school students reported monthly cigarette use.

The sharp declines in combustible use are welcome as most policymakers have turned their attention toward youth vaping. The good news nationwide, and in Indiana, is that both youth vaping and cigarette use are declining. 

In 2022, only 9.7% of 7th and 8th graders and 18.8% of high schoolers reported ever using e-cigarettes. Between 2020 and 2022, ever-use of vapor products decreased by 18.2% among mentioned middle school students and by 29% among high school students.

Monthly vapor product use declined as well. In 2022, only 6.4% of 7th and 8th graders reported using e-cigarettes in the past month. This represents a 22.4% decline since 2020 and a 32.3% decline since 2018 when 9.5% of mentioned middle schoolers had used e-cigarettes in the past month.

Among high school students, in 2022, only 12.2% reported past-month e-cigarette use. This is a 32% decline from 2020 and a whopping 45.6% decline from 2018 when 22.4% had used e-cigarette products in the month prior.

There is also fantastic news on adult and young adult smoking rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published the results from the 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey.

In 2021, among all adults in Indiana, only 17.3% were current smokers, defined as past-month cigarette use. This is a 10.8% decline from 2020 when 19.4% of adults were current smokers. Even better, smoking rates among young adults aged 18 to 24 years old have plummeted, with only 7.4% of young adults in the Hoosier State being current smokers in 2021. This is a 35.1% decline from 2020 when 11.4% of young Indiana adults were current smokers. Moreover, young adult smoking rates in Indiana have declined by 78.2% since 1995 when 33.9% of 18-to-24-year-olds were current smokers.

As lawmakers prepare for 2023 legislative sessions, it is imperative that they are up-to-date on the latest youth tobacco and vapor product rates. Despite alarmism, youth use is declining, and in the face of much rhetoric that youth e-cigarette use leads to increased combustible cigarette use, there is no data to suggest an increase in smoking rates among young adults. If anything, the introduction of alternatives to smoking has led to an accelerated decrease in both youth and young adult smoking rates.

This is part of a blog series of state analyses examining recent tobacco and vapor surveys.

Lindsey Stroud is a Visiting Fellow at Independent Women’s Forum, the Director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s Consumer Center, and a board member with the American Vapor Manufacturers Association.