There is great news out of the Evergreen State: youth use of combustible cigarettes and vapor products continues to decline, and young adult smoking rates are at their lowest levels ever.

According to the Washington Healthy Youth Survey, in 2021, only 1.1% of middle schoolers (defined as 6th and 8th graders) and 2.9% of high schoolers (10th and 12th graders) reported past-month use of combustible cigarettes. Among middle schoolers, combustible cigarette use has declined by 43.2% since 2018, and among high schoolers by 56.2%.

Daily smoking is significantly down as well. In 2021, only 0.1% of middle school students reported using combustible cigarettes every day, this is a 60% decrease from 2018 when 0.25% were daily cigarette smokers. Among high school students, daily cigarette smoking has decreased by 70% from 1% of students in 2018 smoking cigarettes daily to only 0.3% in 2021.

The declines in youth combustible cigarette use are welcome, but policymakers should be aware that youth vaping is declining as well.

Among middle school students, in 2021, only 3.9% reported past-month e-cigarette use, which was a 42.2% decline from 2018 when 6.8% of middle schoolers had used e-cigarettes in the month prior. Among high schoolers, past-month cigarette use has declined by 54.7% from 25.4% in 2018 to 11.5% in 2021.

Similar to combustible cigarette use, daily vaping product use is significantly down. In 2021, among middle schoolers, 0.4% reported vaping every day. This is a 36.4% decline from 2018’s 0.55%. Among high schoolers, daily e-cigarette use has declined by 50% from 5.2% in 2018 to 2.6% in 2021.

Even better, adult smoking rates have continued to decline and young adult smoking rates are at their lowest levels recorded.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey system, in 2021, 10.8% of Washington adults were current smokers. This is a 6.1% decline from 2020 when 11.5% of adults were currently smoking. Among adults aged 18 to 24 years old, in 2021, a minuscule 3.9% were currently smoking, which was a 36.1% decline from 2020’s 6.1%. Moreover, since 2017, young adult smoking rates have decreased by 60.6% with average annual declines of 18%.

Despite alarmism, e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes and their introduction correlates with significant declines in smoking rates in both Washington State and the U.S. as well.

Further, data indicate that flavored e-cigarette bans lead to increases in young adult smoking. Between 2020 and 2021, among all states, young adult smoking rates decreased on average by 19.7%, yet in three states including Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, young adult smoking rates increased during the same period. Lawmakers must refrain from prohibitionist policies that may inadvertently lead to increased combustible cigarette use.

As lawmakers prepare for 2023 legislative sessions, it is imperative that they have up-to-date data on both youth and young adult tobacco and vapor product use. Youth vaping is on the decline in Washington State, and young adult smoking is at minuscule levels.

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.