HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 45 percent of Hawaii public high school students reported using e-cigarettes at some point in their lives, and 1 in 4 said they had used them in the last 30 days, according to a newly-released survey.
The sobering statistics come as the use of regular cigarettes continues to decline among teens.
Just 9 percent of Hawaii public high schoolers reported smoking at least once during the last 30 days. That's down from 28 percent in 1993.
The figures were included in an annual survey of teens' health behaviors, and could spur more efforts to address e-cigarette use among teens.
It's the first time a question about e-cigarettes was included in the survey. Some 12,000 students in grades 6 through 12 participated.
The survey found that e-cigarette use was higher among Big Island and Maui students.
Nearly half of Big Island high schoolers said they'd tried e-cigarettes at least once, and 30 percent said they'd used one in the last 30 days.
Meanwhile, on Maui, 52 percent of teens said they'd used e-cigarettes at least once.
The survey also found several bright spots: Fewer students reported drinking soda regularly, and the prevalence of bullying has declined.
Alcohol use among teens has also dropped: 1 in 4 said they drank alcohol in the last 30 days. That's down from 29 percent in 2011, and compared to 35 percent nationally.
Other highlights from the report:
- Nearly 20 percent of teens said they were using marijuana.
- 1 in 4 said they had been offered or given an illegal drug on school property in the last year.
- Just 25 percent of students said they had eight hours of sleep on average per night.
- 15 percent of high schoolers said they were in a physical fight in school, down sharply from previous years.
"This data shows that we are improving as a state in many areas," said Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the state Health Department.
"However, the sharp rise in the use of electronic cigarettes reminds us of the importance of continually monitoring student behavior. We will continue to work in partnership with HIDOE to ensure that our programs and interventions target these emerging issues."
Although fewer teens are drinking soda, the survey found, more and more of them are leading sedentary lifestyles by doing activities such as playing video games or using computers for non-school purposes.
Another area of concern was adolescent mental health: Nearly 30 percent of high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row at least once in their lifetime.
Rates of attempted suicide steadily decreased since 1993, but remained high at 11 percent.