Dec. 16, 2014 -- The use of electronic cigarettes by American teens has surpassed their use of traditional cigarettes, according to a federal government study.
Among Grade 8 students, nearly nine percent said they'd used an e-cigarette in the last month, while four percent smoked traditional cigarettes. The rates were 16 percent and seven percent among 10th-graders and 17 percent and 14 percent among high school seniors, the Associated Press reported.
The National Institutes of Health survey of more than 41,000 students also found that between four and seven percent of teens who tried e-cigarettes had never smoked a traditional cigarette.
"I worry that the tremendous progress that we've made over the last almost two decades in smoking could be reversed on us by the introduction of e-cigarettes," survey leader Lloyd Johnston, a University of Michigan professor, told the AP.
In 2013, an estimated 4.5 percent of high school students had tried e-cigarettes during the previous month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's three times higher than in 2011.
While the Food and Drug Administration has proposed prohibiting sales of e-cigarettes to minors, there is no timetable for when such a ban might take effect, the AP reported.
The survey also looked at drug use and found that marijuana use appeared to level off after recent increases. Past-month use of marijuana was reported by 6.5 percent of eighth-graders, 17 percent of 10th-graders, and 21 percent of 12th-graders. Nearly six percent of 12th-graders reported daily use of marijuana.
The number of high school seniors trying synthetic marijuana fell to six percent this year, from eight percent last year and 11 percent in 2012, the AP reported.
Six percent of 12th-graders said they abused prescription painkillers this year, compared with 9.5 percent in 2004. Nearly 20 percent of high school seniors reported binge drinking this year, down from 25 percent in 2009.