New Colorado Youth Survey Data Shows Encouraging Tobacco Use Trends

August 4th, 2020

Colorado overall youth tobacco use is down and the percentage of youth who think vaping is risky has increased, according to just-released data from a comprehensive statewide survey of middle and high school students.

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, conducted in 2019, found that 28% of Colorado youth reported current use of a tobacco product in 2019, down from 33% in 2017.

The percent of youth who think vaping is risky rose 23.2% over the course of two years (49.8% in 2017 to 73% in 2019). Raising the perception of risk is key to reducing future use.

E-cigarette use remains relatively unchanged from previous years (27% in 2017 to 25.9% in 2019). The increase in youth perceptions of risk about vaping and the fact that more than half of youth who report using e-cigarette products are trying to quit are encouraging indicators that could decrease future youth e-cigarette use. 

The state’s evidence-based, multifaceted approach to preventing youth tobacco use includes community-based prevention efforts and statewide mass media campaigns.

Strong local action has driven youth prevention regionally. Work in mountain communities, including in Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and Summit Counties, has become an example of local tobacco control success.

In that region, youth vaping declined significantly from 36% to 29%. Underage youth who tried to buy a tobacco product were more likely to report they were refused compared with youth in the rest of the state. In this region, more than 62% of those currently vaping tried to quit in the last year. 

Despite this progress, Colorado has a long way to go to eliminate youth tobacco use. Yet strong steps are being taken.

Only a few months before this survey was conducted, Colorado banned vaping in indoor public places. 

Starting next year, Colorado retailers must get a license to sell tobacco products, including vapes, and the age to purchase tobacco has increased to 21. 

The comprehensive Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data is available here >>