Teen vaping rates rise, nearing pre-pandemic levels, CDC reportsACTA
Teen vaping rates are rising once again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday — a signal that as kids have returned to school, so has their use of e-cigarettes.
Data from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students said they’d recently used an e-cigarette or other vape product. The survey, led by both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, was conducted from January through the end of May.
The vast majority of surveyed youths, 84.5%, said they used flavored e-cigarettes, most often in fruity or other sweet flavors.
Linda Neff, the chief of the epidemiology branch of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said the new numbers show that this year, 2.55 million middle and high school students in the U.S. reporting vaping.
“These numbers confirm that the e-cigarette epidemic in our country is far from over,” Neff said. “Our work is far from done.
“What is even more disturbing is the frequency of use,” she added. “Among those who currently use e-cigarettes, more than 1 in 4 use them daily.”
Frequent use was even greater among high school students. Forty-six percent of older teens said they vaped nearly every day.
“This is powerful evidence that kids aren’t just experimenting with e-cigarettes, but becoming addicted to the high-nicotine products now dominating the market,” Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.
The new numbers more closely resemble those from before the coronavirus pandemic. In the first half of 2020, nearly 20% of high school students and 5% of middle schoolers said they’d recently vaped.
The numbers appeared to take a dip in 2021, but experts cautioned that the apparent downward trend during the pandemic may have been an underestimate because of how the data was collected, as kids were surveyed at home, remotely. Historically, data for the survey has been collected in schools.
The 2022 data was collected in a hybrid manner, with some respondents in class and others at home.
“Even if they’re not directly comparable, they’re not unexpected,” Robin Koval, the president of Truth Initiative, a nonprofit tobacco control organization, said of the new youth vaping statistics. “We have lots of other data that’s been pointing in this direction.”
A cascade of new products
Most states had already banned the sale of nondisposable e-cigarettes, including Juul, by the time FDA took action in June, when it ordered the company to stop selling its products completely. (The ban has been put on hold as the company has sued the FDA.) Juul was the biggest supplier of vaping products in the U.S.
Two years earlier, in January 2020, the FDA had said companies that made nondisposable vapes couldn’t sell them in fruity and minty flavors that appeal to kids.
But by banning only nondisposable flavored vapes, the FDA unintentionally opened up a market for flavored disposable products. Those companies are required to seek authorization from the FDA before they market their products, but they often don’t.
Now, disposable vapes have become the most popular e-cigarette option among teens, according to the new report.