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Fewer high school students smoking

In the steepest decline ever found in Minnesota, the percent of high school students who smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days dropped from 18.1 percent in 2011 to 10.6 percent in 2014.

The 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey also found fewer young people used used chewing tobacco and cigars between 2011 and 2014.  

Efforts to curb cigarette smoking appear to be helping. They include a 2013 tobacco tax, bans on indoor smoking, and tighter restrictions on youth access to tobacco products.

For the first time, the survey also asked about e-cigarette use and found that 12.9 percent of high school students used or tried an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days. The survey found that 28 percent of high school students reported ever having tried an e-cigarette.

"These new findings indicate that our statewide efforts to reduce and prevent conventional tobacco use among Minnesota children are working," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "At the same time, we are seeing a wild-west approach toward e-cigarettes, which allows tobacco companies unlimited marketing access to young men and women. This has led to increasing numbers of Minnesota high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes."

An estimated 85,900 Minnesota public school students in grades 6-12 have tried e-cigarettes, and 38,400 reported using them in the past 30 days. Nicotine is known to harm adolescent brain development. Nearly one-fourth of high school students who have tried an e-cigarette have never tried another tobacco product.

Read more from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Many children still breathe secondhand smoke

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that even though smoke exposure is down, 58 million Americans still breathe secondhand smoke. It said two of every five children, including seven in 10 black children, are still exposed.

Secondhand smoke causes early death and disease in nonsmokers. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful.

The findings on secondhand smoke:

• About 58 million Americans—1 in 4 nonsmokers—are still exposed to secondhand smoke. Some population groups are exposed at much higher rates than the population as a whole.

• Nearly half of black nonsmokers are exposed, including 7 in 10 black children.

• About 2 in 5 children (about 15 million) ages 3 to 11 years old are exposed.

• More than 2 in 5 nonsmokers who live below the poverty level are exposed.

• More than 1 in 3 nonsmokers who live in rental housing are exposed. About 80 million Americans live in multi-unit housing, many of whom rent.

For more details, visit the Vital Signs webpage at