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King County teen e-cigarette use is on the rise, but fewer smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol


According to the Healthy Youth Survey, which is taken every two years by Washington state students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12, e-cigarette use among youth is increasing while cigarette smoking and drinking and driving are declining. One in five high school seniors reports vaping or e-cigarette use.


Most King County youth are heeding public health prevention warnings about cigarette smoking and drinking and driving, according to new, preliminary results from the Healthy Youth Survey. However, e-cigarettes use among youth is increasing. One in five high school seniors report vaping or e-cigarettes use, which is double the number that smokes cigarettes.

“Our kids have far too easy access to e-cigarettes, and may not realize that e-cigarettes pose a danger to their health,” said Patty Hayes, Interim Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County. “Nicotinewhether consumed in a traditional cigarette or an e-cigaretteis addictive and dangerous.”

Top preliminary substance use findings for King County 10th and 12th graders

  • Trending upAny use of e-cigarettes or vaping in the past 30 days
    • Grade 10: 14.3% in 2014 and 2.1% in 2012
    • Grade 12: 21.7% in 2014 and 3% in 2012
  • Trending downCigarette smoking in the past month
    • Grade 10: 6.5% in 2014 and 13.8% in 2008
    • Grade 12: 10.5% in 2014 and 18.8% in 2008
  • Trending downAlcohol consumption in the past 30 days
    • Grade 10: 19.5% in 2014 and 28.9% in 2008
    • Grade 12: 31.1% in 2014 and 41% in 2008
  • About the sameMarijuana or hashish use in the past month
    • Grade 10: 16.6% in 2014 and 18.1% in 2008
    • Grade 12: 25.6% in 2014 and 28.4% in 2008

Driving under the influence

The number of King County students who reported riding in a car with a person who had been drinking also declined: Reports among high school seniors went from 26.4% to 15.5% between 2008 and 2014. Similarly, sophomores report 23.3% in 2008 and 17.3% in 2014. However, almost a quarter of seniors (23.7%) reported riding in a car with someone who had been using marijuana.

"Clearly our kids are getting the message that it's extremely dangerous to drive with someone who's been drinking," said Interim Director Hayes. "But kids need to know that driving with someone who's been using marijuana is also very dangerous."

Use of illegal drugs (excluding marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol)

Students reporting any use of illegal drugs was also on the decline. In 2008, 9.7% of 12th graders said that they used any illegal drug in the past 30 days. By 2014, the number reporting using any illegal drugs in the past 30 days dropped to 6.5%. For 10th graders, 6.8% said they used any illegal drugs in 2008 and in 2014 that number dropped to 4.7%.

More on the Healthy Youth Survey

The Healthy Youth Survey is taken every two years by students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 in public schools across Washington. More than 13,000 King County youth took part in the survey in October 2014. Questions asked students about a wide variety of health and health behaviors.

Results provide state and local health organizations with needed information to plan, implement, and evaluate publicly-funded programs. Learn more about the Healthy Youth Survey at AskHYS.

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for two million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health — Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.