Thursday, February 22, 2024

Further Evidence That CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey Exaggerates Teen Vaping Rates


The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is a valuable federal resource for population-level research on tobacco and other substance use.  Analyzing its data, I have published research on how many Americans smoke (here, here, here and here), the illegitimacy of the gateway claim (here), and the role of smoking and smokeless tobacco (ST) use in past-year psychiatric disorders (here).  I have shared in this blog other important NSDUH insights into how many Americans use ST (here), who smokes menthols (here and here), and teen smoking declines before and during the e-cigarette era (here and here).  I have also noted that federal officials use NSDUH to spin their prohibition narratives (here).

Today I report an important development: In 2021 and 2022, NSDUH collected information on vaping.  The chart at left presents the most important data from these surveys: smoking/vaping rates among high schoolers, compared to data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). 

Now we have further evidence that NYTS grossly exaggerates teen vaping rates.  The chart at left shows that NSDUH vaping rates in 2021-2022 among high schoolers are much lower than the rates reported in NYTS, which I previously demonstrated were higher than those reported in the FDA’s Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Survey (here and here) and the federal Knowledge Panel (here). 

As I documented in a peer-reviewed journal (here), NSDUH adult smoking rates tend to be higher than rates reported from NHIS.  That result also holds true for high schoolers, as seen in the chart. 

My research has shown that the higher adult smoking prevalence estimates in NSDUH may be due to the survey’s inclusion as current smokers those persons who smoked as infrequently as one day in the past month.  That is not the case here, however, as NYTS also counts as current any high schooler smoking one day in the past month.

It is unsurprising that the CDC counts high school vapers using only the bloated NYTS survey, and that little research has been conducted to assess its accuracy.  Furthermore, government officials at the CDC and other agencies largely ignore legitimate surveys from NSDUH, PATH and Knowledge Panel when they should consider all available evidence before making claims about teen vaping.


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