New Survey Shows Teen Vaping Use Finally Declining
Following substantial efforts to address the teen vaping epidemic that emerged in the U.S. over the past decade, a new federal survey suggests that there has been a significant decrease in tobacco use among teens this year, with most of the decline coming from a drop in vaping.
Researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report that vape use dropped from 14% across all middle and high school students last year to 10% this year. The findings were published in the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on November 2.
The FDA and the CDC data came from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) focusing on tobacco use among teens in the U.S. from March to June 2023.
Teen Tobacco Product Use
Overall, 2.8 million teens reported using any tobacco product this year, declining from nearly 17% in 2022 to 13% in 2023.
The decline was primarily linked to e-cigarette use, which dropped from 14% to 10%, resulting in 580,000 fewer high school students who reported current use of e-cigarettes in 2023.
Middle schoolers experienced an increase in tobacco use overall, rising from 4.5% to 6.6%, as well as the use of multiple tobacco products concurrently, which increased from 1.5% to 2.5%.
Overall, the use of any one specific tobacco product among middle schoolers, including e-cigarettes, did not change.
Among teens who reported e-cigarette use, 25% said they vaped every day. The most popular brands included Elf Bar, used by nearly 60% of students; Esco Bars, used by 22%; Vuse, used by 21%; JUUL, used by 17%; and Mr. Fog, used by 14% of students.
The most common type of e-cigarette used by teens was disposables compared to cartridge-based products.
Teens also used cigars and traditional tobacco cigarettes less last year compared to years past. The rate represented an all-time low.
Flavored E-Cigarette Use
For the first time, the youth tobacco survey asked about the use of flavors with the word “ice” or “iced” in the name, as well as flavors that imply but do not specifically indicate a flavor, such as “island bash.”
According to the findings, nearly all of the teens (90%) who reported using e-cigarettes said they used flavored products. The most common flavors used were fruit, candy, mint, and menthol.
Research indicates teens who use nontraditional e-cigarette flavors, such as candy-like or menthol flavors, are more likely to vape more frequently or continue vaping after trying the products. Flavored vapes lead teens to become addicted and using the products more, according to previous data.
Previous research has also indicated flavored e-cigarettes are linked to an increased risk of heart disease due to damage to blood vessels.
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FDA Vaping Enforcement
The continued popularity of e-cigarettes over the past decade has many health officials worried about the future tobacco habits of the nation’s youth. The new decreases in vaping are a step in the right direction, researchers indicate, but for the 10th year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school and middle school students, largely stemming from advertising and social media influence.
In 2021, the FDA began rejecting vape product approval applications, leading to 55,000 e-cigarette product bans.
The FDA filed 22 civil money penalty actions in September, 135 warning letters were issued over the past year, and the agency plans to issue a new wave of enforcement actions for illegal e-cigarettes to manufacturers and distributors of unauthorized e-cigarettes, including Elf Bar.
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