On August 20th, 2018, State Superintendent Torlakson announced the publication of the results of the Healthy Kids Survey at Public Schools. This 16th Biennial Statewide Survery covers the substance use and well-being among California students between 2015 and 2017. These surveys are conducted by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). The data presented, though, is certainly an inconvenient truth for tobacco control activists as it shows that tobacco use and vaping continued to decline. Let’s have a closer look at this, shall we?
- Among 7th graders, no indicators changed negatively and major improvements were evident compared to 2013-2015.
- Like in 2013-15, students were significantly more likely to engage in smoking electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices than to smoke cigarettes for 2015-17. However, declines in both lifetime and current vaping were found.
- The lifetime vaping was reported by 8% of 7th graders, 23% of 9th, and 32% of 11th graders, declines of 5 and 3 points in the lower grades but level in 11th grade.
- Current vaping declined across grade levels, dropping from 8% to 3% in 7th, from 13% to 8% in 9th, and from 16% to 10% in 11th grade. Students in all grades are also more likely to vape on school property (2% to 4%) than smoke cigarettes. (1% or less)
- E-cigarette use is down almost 6 points in both grades, to 8% and 10% respectively.
We note that;
“The consistent and often pronounced pattern of declines in alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarette, and drug use across all grades warrants more attention. As discussed in the section on Substance Use and Mental Health below, this could include declines in personal disapproval and easy availability“
Which certainly warrants attention because I think we all know that there hasn’t been a substantial or noteworthy decline of easy availability of vapor products. If anything, in the above time period said availability may have actually increased. We have no doubt that tobacco control activists would claim their efforts have led to such a decline. Their current aggressive push for flavor bans and other prohibitionist desires certainly are leading to a decline in availability now but that was most definitely not the case in the time period of this survey. The authors go on to say;
“Percentages in all grades reporting alcohol and marijuana were very easy to obtain decreased by 2 to 4 points. Nevertheless, about half of 9th graders and about two-thirds of 11th graders find both substances fairly or very easy to obtain.”
So while these students find vapor products easy enough to obtain, the actual reported declines in use and experimentation speak volumes about the perceived, artificially created and based on anecdotal evidence, “epidemic” of e-cig use among minors. Maybe we can call this an “Inconvenient Truth Initiative”.
In case you don’t feel like going through the 88 pages of the survey, we have listed some of the relevant data below for easy consumption.