AP Health Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — In almost any other year it would be hailed as a public health victory: The smoking rate among U.S. high schoolers took its biggest hit ever this year, federal figures show, falling to a new low.
Instead the milestone was relegated to a lone figure at the bottom of a government press release and went unremarked by anti-tobacco groups that have spent decades working to stamp out youth smoking.
It's a new era in the tobacco wars — one in which the alarming rise of underage vaping has almost completely overshadowed a parallel drop in traditional smoking. And the pivotal question of whether electronic cigarettes are inadvertently helping to wipe out smoking among young people has become a polarizing topic: embraced by some experts, di