Skip to main content

Teen tobacco use in Minnesota has risen for the first time since 2000

Tobacco use is up among Minnesota youth for the first time since 2000

For the first time in 17 years, tobacco use among teenagers is on the rise in Minnesota.

And the reason for that, according to the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, is the proliferation of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices.

Their rise in popularity is such that 1 in 5 high school students admit to using e-cigarettes – a 50 percent increase since data was last collected in 2014.

Tobacco use amongst Minnesota high school students was at 26.4 percent, up from 24.6 percent in 2014.

This is the first time since 2000 that tobacco use has risen among Minnesota youth, with vaping quickly replacing cigarettes as the go-to form of tobacco.

Less than 10 percent of high schoolers smoke cigarettes, with smoker numbers falling 70 percent since the turn of the century.

Health official blames tobacco industry

But the rise of e-cigs is causing Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm to fear it will reverse the success the state's had in cutting down teen smoking.

"Just as we successfully reduced cigarette use to under 10 percent of high school students, giving us the hope that a smoke-free generation was within reach, the industry responded with new products designed to get youth addicted to nicotine," she said.

Of the students who responded to the survey, 88 percent said they'd seen ads promoting e-cigarettes.

Molly Moilanen, of ClearWay Minnesota, described the report as highlighting a "frightening trend," and she too blamed the "Big Tobacco" for "easy access, prolific advertising and kid-friendly flavors" of e-cigs.

The state's Department of Health found that teenagers who use e-cigs are twice as likely to take up smoking cigarettes as those who don't try them.

It also notes that many are using vaping devices to experiment with recreational marijuana and "other illicit substances," potentially providing a gateway to more dangerous drugs in the future.

It quotes Dr. Peter Dehnel, medical director with the Twin Cities Medical Society, as saying: "It provides a platform for illicit drugs and for nicotine, which we know is highly addictive and can harm brain development as teens grow, impairing learning, memory and attention."

The National Institute of Drug Abuse has found that boys are twice as likely to start smoking e-cigs than girls, though only 66 percent of all teenage e-cig users are only vaping flavoring.

Around 13 percent say they use it to vape nicotine products, while 5.8 percent use it for marijuana.

Next Up


Vikings place Dalvin Tomlinson on COVID-19/reserve list

The defensive line takes another blow ahead of Sunday's game with the 49ers.


Photos: Tattersall Distillery's new 'destination distillery' in WI

The Minneapolis-based craft spirits manufacturer announced an opening date for its new space.

best buy

Best Buy considering added security to counter organized retail crime

CEO Corie Barry addressed the issue during a Q3 earnings call.

FINNEGANS Caribou image

FINNEGANS, Caribou Coffee team up for charitable MN brew

The Dead Irish Poet stout is now available at liquor stores and bars.

Jiecong Cao

Man charged in sex trafficking bust at Roseville hotel

He has been charged with the promoting of prostitution.

Justin Morneau

5 former Minnesota Twins are on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot

Four were staples on the 2000s teams and the other is the one that got away.

kitchen window minneapolis google street view - crop

Kitchen Window reveals it will close, announces storewide sale

The premium cookware shop has been in business for more than 35 years.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, November 23

The latest info from the state health department.


Teen vaping use in Minnesota as risen 'sharply,' study finds

There's been a significant increase in 8th and 11th graders vaping.

Kevin Love appears in Minnesota for first time since Olympics

Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love made his first public appearance in Minnesota Saturday since the London Olympics in August, in the first of a two-day youth basketball camp in Edina. Love preferred to keep the focus on having fun with the 250 kids in the camp rather than talking about the Timberwolves' offseason roster moves.

State: Fewer teens using tobacco, but pace of decline is slowing

Health officials on Monday reported that after decades of sharp declines in teen tobacco use, progress is slowing.


Minnesota teens are still vaping at a 'very high rate'

The majority of youth e-cig users report signs of nicotine dependence, MDH says.

Teen vaping is now an 'epidemic,' feds say

The FDA commission says the trend is 'deeply disturbing.'