About 3.6 million youths reported current e-cigarette use this year, a 33% drop from last year, according to a new report.
“Although the decline in e-cigarette use among our Nation’s youth is a notable public health achievement, our work is far from over,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D., said in a news release. “Youth e-cigarette use remains an epidemic, and CDC is committed to supporting efforts to protect youth from this preventable health risk.”
The findings come from a CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysis of the National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted among middle and high school students from January-March 2020. The report was published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. E-cigarettes are both addictive and harmful to developing brains. Roughly 19.6% of high school students reported current (past 30-day) use of e-cigarettes this year compared to 27.5% last year. About 4.7% of middle school students were current users in 2020 compared to 10.5% in 2019.
The decrease followed an outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries that peaked in September 2019 and resulted in at least 2,807 hospitalizations and 68 deaths among users of all ages. Researcher found a link between many of the lung injuries and vitamin E acetate, which sometimes is used as a diluent in THC vaping products.
Among e-cigarette users in 2020, about 22.5% of high schoolers and 9.4% of middle schoolers said they use e-cigarettes daily. The new report also found more than 80% of current users in both age groups use flavored e-cigarettes. Fruit, mint, menthol and candy/desserts were most common among high schoolers, while middle school favorites were fruit, candy/desserts, mint and menthol.
The AAP has been pushing for a ban on all flavored e-cigarette products. In February, the FDA began taking action against manufacturers selling flavored prefilled pod or cartridge-based e-cigarettes but excluded tobacco and menthol flavors, to the AAP’s dismay. The new report found that among youths who use flavored e-cigarettes, 37% of high schoolers and 23.5% of middle schoolers use menthol.
The data also showed that while prefilled pods or cartridges were the most common type of device in both 2019 and 2020, disposable e-cigarette use skyrocketed 1,000% among high school e-cigarette users this year and 400% among middle school users.
To continue to address youth tobacco use, the CDC encourages additional FDA regulation of e-cigarettes, price increases, restricted youth access to e-cigarettes, educational initiatives, additional strategies to reduce access to flavored products and comprehensive smoke-free policies that include e-cigarettes.
“These findings reinforce the importance of continuing to focus on the strategies that work to reduce youth tobacco product use while keeping pace with emerging trends in tobacco products,” Karen Hacker, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a news release. “Implementing these strategies at the national, state, and local levels is integral to preventing and reducing youth tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes.”