Over 2 Million U.S. Teens Use E-cigarettes, a Huge Public Health Concern

Over 2 million U.S. teens say they use e-cigarettes, according to a new survey released by FDA and CDC.

The study, which found that a quarter of these teens reported they vape daily, was based on data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a cross-sectional, self-administered survey of U.S. middle- and high-school students.

The use of tobacco products by youths in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain,” according to the FDA and CDC survey report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Key Report Findings on Youth E-cigarette Use

In 2021, 11.3% of high-school (1.72 million) and 2.8% (320,000) of middle-school students reported current e-cigarette use, according to the FDA and CDC.

In addition:

  • 43.6% of high school students and 17.2% of middle school students who vape reported using e-cigarettes on 20 or more of the past 30 days.
  • Daily use was 27.6% among current high school e-cigarette users and 8.3% among current middle school e-cigarette users, which underscores nicotine addiction.
  • The most commonly used e-cigarette device type was disposables (53.7%) followed by prefilled or refillable pods or cartridges.
  • 84.7% used flavored e-cigarettes, including 85.8% of high school and 79.2% of middle school users.
  • Among all current flavored e-cigarette users, the most commonly used flavor types among both middle and high school students were fruit, followed by candy, desserts, or other sweets; mint; and menthol.

“These data highlight the fact that flavored e-cigarettes are still extremely popular with kids. And we are equally disturbed by the quarter of high school students who use e-cigarettes and say they vape every single day,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told CNN.

Bans on Flavored Cigarettes, Cigars, and E-Cigarettes

The FDA already is banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, based on evidence of the addictiveness and harm of the products.

vape e-cigarettes teens youthThis decision was made in response to a citizen petition filed in 2013.

“Banning menthol — the last allowable flavor — in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement

But recently, FDA said it needs more time on a decision to ban JUUL e-cigarettes.

Each day that these flavored products remain on the market means that more children will develop nicotine addictions, which and makes them more likely to become cigarette smokers and suffer from cigarette-related diseases, health experts say.

A survey of 15- to 24-year-olds by Truth Initiative showed that most (70%) young people anticipated seeing people vape at similar or higher rates as they went back to school.

Reports also suggest the youth e-cigarette epidemic won’t end if FDA doesn’t act fast to remove flavors and fully regulate products as the industry quickly innovates.

“Brands such as Vuse have seen skyrocketing sales making them the number two choice among youth and yet remain illegally on the market due to FDA inaction,” according to the Truth Initiative. “The number one brand used by youth, Puff Bar, not only comes in a wide variety of flavors, but has also recently indicated that it will now be manufactured with synthetic nicotine in a brazen attempt to thwart FDA oversight.”

More on Regulation of Vaping, E-Cigarettes

Health experts say e-cigarettes need stronger regulations to prevent youth access and use.

Many cities and states have passed a ban on flavored vaping amid COVID-19. 

The California State Assembly passed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vapes.

Chicago also passed bans on sales of flavored vaping products.

On Sept. 8, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have banned all flavored vaping products, except tobacco and menthol flavors.

In 2019, New York became the first state to implement a statewide ban on most flavored nicotine vaping products.

But FDA regulation is still needed, according to the Truth Initiative.

“We remain hopeful that the FDA will choose to remove all flavors, including menthol, from the market and regulate access to e-cigarettes as a harm reduction methodology exclusively and very carefully made available only for adult smokers,” they said in a statement. “Further, FDA must determine how it will regulate synthetic nicotine as well as limit ever increasing levels of nicotine in these products. We urge the FDA to harness this momentum and consider the human cost of its delayed decisions regarding access to high nicotine, youth-appealing e-cigarettes, otherwise even these gains may be rapidly erased.”

What We Can Do?

mil gracias for not smoking indoors logoSeveral innovative campaigns, many of which are bilingual to help reach Latino audiences, aim to address youth use of e-cigarettes and vaping.

Learn about seven unique campaigns that are fighting the youth vaping crisis

Also, promote clean indoor air with the “Mil Gracias (A Thousand Thanks) for Not Smoking Indoors!” campaign from UT Health San Antonio.

  1. Email a “thank you” to smokers who protect others by not smoking indoors.
  2. Sign a letter acknowledging the health dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.
  3. Help your city reduce secondhand smoke in multifamily dwellings.

The Mil Gracias campaign features English and Spanish flyers with key messages to help people reduce their risk for smoking-related diseases and COVID-19.

Quitxt Can Help You Quit Smoking, Vaping

Quitting smoking/vaping remains the best choice to improve health among youngsters.

Quitxt is a bilingual service for your smartphone that sends messages with culturally and regionally tailored support that can help you in quitting smoking and vaping

quitxt quit smoking cessation service via text and facebook messengerThe service uses text messages or Facebook Messenger chat to help with motivation to stop, setting a quit date, finding things to do instead of smoking, handling stress, using nicotine replacement if needed, and more.

The service was created by Amelie G. Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio and has helped many South Texas young adults to quit smoking and vaping.

Join Quitxt via Facebook Messenger. Or text “iquit” to 844-332-2058.

Learn more about the Quitxt message program in English or Spanish to help you quit vaping today!


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