For the last 27 years, Indiana University’s School of Public Health and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Division of Mental Health and Addiction asks 6th-12th graders across Indiana about substance abuse, tobacco, alcohol, mental health, gambling, and potential risk factors. The Indiana Youth Survey’s results help schools, community members, and public health partners evaluate policies, programs, and unmet needs.
Results of the 2017 survey are showing promise for our young people. E-cigarettes are currently the number one tobacco product among teens and the survey began adding questions about e-cigarettes in 2015 to respond to their national growth in popularity. In the first year these questions were introduced, the report found 19% of Indiana high school students reported using electronic devices at least once a month. In 2016, that statistic dropped to 17% and 15%, respectively. The study also indicated that teens are more likely to start using tobacco products the older they get, which supports the need for frequent tobacco education beginning at a younger age. While the decrease in electronic device use is promising, the study did not specify what this might have been a result of. Are e-cigarettes no longer the ‘cool’ thing to do? Is FDA regulation of electronic devices or local control policies starting to take hold? Is tobacco education convincing teens to make healthier decisions? We’ll have to wait and see if more in-depth studies to discover the answers will be done.