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Led by e-cigs, MN youth tobacco use rises for first time since 2000

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Julia Boyle shows a customer an electronic cigarette as they shop at the Vapor Shark store in 2014 in Miami.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images file 2014

The embrace of e-cigarettes and vaping by Minnesota youth is reversing the state's long-term trend of declining teen tobacco use, the Minnesota Health Department said Thursday.

Minnesota youth tobacco use is rising for the first time in 17 years, with 26 percent of high school students using some form of tobacco or nicotine, up from 24 percent in 2014, the agency said as it released its annual survey on young people and tobacco.

Youth e-cigarette use is up 50 percent since 2014, the agency said.

E-cigarettes "threaten to reverse our success in preventing youth from using tobacco products," Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. The tobacco industry, she added, has "responded with new products designed to get youth addicted to nicotine."

Among the survey's other findings:

• 1 in 5 high school students use e-cigarettes, a nearly 50 percent increase since the data were last collected in 2014. 

• Youth cigarette smoking has reached an all-time low. Less than 10 percent of high school students now smoke cigarettes, a 70 percent drop since 2000.

• Teens are using e-cigarette devices for "recreational marijuana and other illicit substances."