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Tobacco use by youth is rising, according to the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In fact, most people who use tobacco as adults begin using tobacco during their adolescent years. Nine out of 10 smokers first try cigarettes by age 18. That’s why preventing the use of tobacco products by youth is critical to tobacco-prevention efforts across Mecklenburg County and the U.S.
The rise of tobacco use by youth is attributed to e-cigarette use, or vaping. While cigarette smoking by youth has dropped, the use of electronic cigarettes has gone up dramatically among middle and high school students. As many as 40% of Mecklenburg County youth report having experimented with vaping. Flavoring in such products make them more appealing to youth. But vaping may pose serious and avoidable health risks. Exposure to nicotine during
adolescece can lead to addiction and cause long-term harm to brain development. The
aerosol from vapes or e-cigarettes can also contain toxins that are harmful when breathed in.
The most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey showed e-cigarette
use was up 78% among high school students
and 48% among middle schoolers in just one year. In addition, the
frequency of use among current high school e-cigarette users surged with
nearly 28% vaping more than 20 times per month.
You can get help quitting by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709.
Click here for more information.
Youth Tobacco Prevention Resource Guide: A wide variety of resources for teachers, tobacco educators, counselors, nurses, parents, and others on the hazards and long-term consequences of tobacco use. Resources include educational programs, cessation tools, fact sheets, media campaigns, and much more.
National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2019, CDC
N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey, 2017 and 2019, N.C. Tobacco Prevention & Control Branch
Mecklenburg County Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2017, CDC
Charlotte Mecklenburg Youth Drug Survey, 2018, administered by the
Center for Prevention Services
Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention team has partnered with youth across Mecklenburg County to spread the word that tobacco use is a dangerous and slippery slope. Among those youth are the Butler High School Dream Team, a group of students who have pledged to live a tobacco, drug, and alcohol-free life—and advocate for their peers to do the same.
“The message we spread to fellow students is that the consequences of using tobacco products at a young age can be harmful later I life. We want to see students embrace the message that these poducts can be very harmful to their health.” -- Charles Speck, Butler High School DREAM Team
Since young people spend a lot of time on social media, they are often targeted on those platforms by tobacco-marketing efforts. So Public Health encourages youth to be ”woke” about the industry and share their encouragement via the hashtag
Teenager Luka Kinard shares how he became addicted to vaping and his experience finding treatment. In this interview with Anuvia Prevention & Recovery Center he discusses how he paid for his habit, how social media spreads the epidemic, and what it's like to be a sober teenager.
For more information about our youth tobacco prevention program or to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, contact Kim Bayha at
You can also follow Tobacco-Free Mecklenburg on social media for the latest in national, state, and local tobacco-related news, policies, issues, and resources.
County services have returned to their normal schedule unless noted otherwise. Read the latest service availability update.