U.S. Youth Vaping Down Significantly

    Photo: Aliaksandr Barouski - Dreamstime.com

    Youth e-cigarette use declined significantly in the U.S., according to results of the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which were released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday. The drop comes after two years of increases in youth vaping.

    The data show 1.8 million fewer U.S. youth are currently using e-cigarettes compared to 2019. While overall use has declined, there was an increase in use of disposable e-cigarettes. Of high school e-cigarette users, 26.5 percent used disposable e-cigarettes compared to 2.4 percent in 2019. For middle school e-cigarette users, 15.2 percent reported disposable e-cigarette use compared to 3 percent in 2019. Flavored products, such as fruit, mint, candy, and menthol, were reportedly used by 8 out of 10 youth e-cigarette users.

    In 2020, 19.6 percent of U.S. high school students (3.02 million) and 4.7 percent of middle school students (550,000) reported current e-cigarette use. Among current e-cigarette users, 38.9 percent of high school students and 20 percent of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes on 20 or more of the past 30 days; 22.5 percent of high school users and 9.4 percent of middle school users reported daily use. Among all current e-cigarette users, 82.9 percent used flavored e-cigarettes, including 84.7 percent of high school users (2.53 million) and 73.9 percent of middle school users (400,000).

    Among high school current e-cigarette users, the most used device types were prefilled pods or cartridges, followed by disposables and tanks. Among middle school current e-cigarette users, the most used device types were prefilled pods or cartridges, followed by tanks and disposables.

    Health advocates attributed the decline to a combination of public education and cessation efforts, along with public policy actions. Last fall, several state governors took emergency action to halt the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. In November 2019, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes.

    In first four months of 2020, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island enacted bans on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, and last week California became the second state to prohibit the sale of both flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes.

    Nicotine industry representatives welcomed the decline in youth e-cigarette use.

    “We are encouraged that underage use has declined significantly, which shows the importance of evidence-based interventions,” Juul Labs wrote in a statement.

    Health advocates said the decline was not enough.

    “It is good news that the results of 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey released today show a significant decline in youth e-cigarette use after two years of alarming increases. However, youth e-cigarette use remains unacceptably high at nearly 20 percent of high school students and more than 3.5 million kids altogether,” representatives of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, The Truth Initiative and Bloomberg Philanthropies wrote in joint press note.