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Amid growing concerns about the health risks linked to e-cigarettes, a new study warns that teen vaping may be linked to earlier and heavier tobacco use.
In findings published this month in the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Utah warn that e-cigarette and traditional tobacco cigarette usage has increased among teens and young adults, reversing years of federal and state efforts to prevent teen nicotine addictions.
Researchers evaluated data collected by the National Youth Tobacco Survey from 2011 through 2018 to determine trends in smoking frequency, smoking intensity, and age of first cigarette use among current cigarette smokers.
Of all 11,123 middle and high school students included in the analyses, researchers found that there was a decline in the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the age of first cigarette use increased from 12.56 years in 2011 to 12.86 years in 2018.
Despite the decline in frequency, light smoking of electronic cigarettes increased significantly among all youth demographics. Researchers indicate that current youth e-cigarette use increased 78% from 2017 to 2018, which is the largest increase ever recorded.
The findings also identified a spike in vaping among male youth from 2014 to 2018. Adolescent males were found to smoke more heavily and start smoking earlier when compared to other demographics.
Teen Vaping Epidemic
Electronic cigarettes were initially marketed as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, with the introduction of JUUL vape pods and other flavored e-cigarettes that were specifically targeted toward teens and non-smokers, federal health regulators indicate that there is now a growing epidemic of youth e-cigarette addiction nationwide.
Studies indicate vaping is creating a new generation of tobacco smokers among the nation’s youth who are drawn to the candy-like flavors of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes have become the most popular form of tobacco use among the nation’s youth.
Among high school students, e-cigarette use increased 10-fold, from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015. While many states regulate the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, e-cigarettes have been easily available to youth via the internet for several years.
JUUL Labs has been accused of fueling the growing teen nicotine addiction problems in the United States, with allegations of designing JUULs to look like a USB thumb drives to appeal to youth.
In September 2019, the FDA issued a warning letter to JUUL, indicating there was evidence it told school-aged children that its products were safer than cigarettes, which has not been proven.
A growing number of JUUL lawsuits and class action claims have been filed nationwide. Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints brought throughout the federal court system, the JUUL litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which is where JUUL Labs, Inc.’s San Francisco headquarters are located.
As JUUL addiction lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months, the litigation is expected to continue to grow, and is likely to encompass tens of thousands of complaints.