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June 15 (Reuters) - The overall use of tobacco products by young people in the United States declined in 2016 by the largest amount in six years, led by a drop in e-cigarette use, according to government figures released on Thursday.
The number of middle and high school students who used any tobacco product fell to 3.9 million in 2016 from 4.7 million in 2015. The number who used e-cigarettes fell to 2.2 million from 3 million, while the number who used traditional cigarettes fell to 1.4 million from 1.6 million.
The figures, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that 11.3 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2016, down from 16 percent in 2015. Roughly 8 percent of high school students used traditional cigarettes, down from 9.3 percent in 2015.
Among middle school students, 4.3 percent used e-cigarettes in 2016, down from 5.3 percent in 2015. There was little change in the rate of middle school traditional cigarette smoking, which was 2.2 percent in 2016 compared to 2.3 percent in 2015.
The 2016 figures represent the first time the use of all tobacco products has declined among youth since the CDC started reporting this measure in 2011.
In previous years declines in cigarette and cigar use coincided with increases in the use of other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and hookahs. Between 2011 and 2016 overall tobacco use, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah, smokeless tobacco, pipes and bidis, remained roughly the same.
Use of cigarettes between 2011 and 2016 fell among high school students to 8 percent in 2016 from 15.8 percent in 2011, use of cigars fell to 7.7 percent from 11.6 percent and smokeless tobacco use fell to 5.8 percent from 7.9 percent.
At the same time use of e-cigarettes rose to 11.3 percent from 1.5 percent and use of hookahs rose to 4.8 percent from 4.1 percent. The latest figures show e-cigarette use is declining without a corresponding increase in traditional cigarette use.
In 2016 e-cigarettes remained the most commonly used tobacco product among high school students, at 11.3 percent, and among middle school students, at 4.3 percent.
The latest figures show that of those students who used any tobacco product, nearly half used two or more.
The CDC did not specify which products were most frequently used together but Brian King, the CDC Office on Smoking and Health's deputy director for research translation, said previous studies have shown that the most common dual use pairing is between cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
"We would expect that to continue," he said.
Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese