Alarming Teen E-Cigarette Use

We recently shared with you some information about the decline in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults. In that post we observed that teen use of tobacco products was escalating.

The increase in teen use of e-cigarettes is alarming. In data released this month (much earlier than expected) teen vaping - sm - pexels-photo-338710documents a staggering increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes among teens in America. Data released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that the use of e-cigarettes has reached epidemic proportions. In 2018 more than 20 percent of American high school students reported using e-cigarettes regularly. This is almost twice as many teens as in 2017.

The new insights are based on responses to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a combined effort of the FDA and the CDC. The findings include:

  • From 2017 to 2018, use of tobacco of any kind among high school students rose 38 percent; 29 percent among middle school students
  • This increase in use of tobacco products was attributed to a “dramatic” rise in e-cigarette use over the last year.
  • In 2017, 2 million high school students used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. In 2018, the number had risen to 3 million. (Compare to 220,000 students

in 2011).

Equally alarming is the fact that these teens are using e-cigarettes more often. Nearly 30 percent of the high school students who reported use of e-cigarettes said that they had been vaping with an e-cigarette at least 20 of the last 30 days. Particularly popular among teens are the small e-cigarettes that resemble a USB flash drive. These devices contain very high amounts of nicotine and are most popular in fruit and candy flavors.

The flavors are significant. For many teens, the flavor was the initial draw to trying e-cigarettes. These flavors then increase the likelihood that those who try the e-cigarettes will graduate to regular use of the products.

Use of these e-cigarettes can be highly addictive (due to the amount of nicotine they contain). They also carry the risk of harm to breathing and to oral health. Many experts are concerned that the progression from e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco products will be a small step. That step would subject a new generation of Americans to the harmful effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

We can expect to see programs coming from the FDA and the CDC to attempt to curb this rise in the popularity of e-cigarettes. The carcinogenic properties of tobacco will bring more cases of tobacco-related cancer, heart disease, lung disease, oral health issues, and more to this new generation. Society will continue to be saddled with the ever-rising cost (human and financial) of these diseases.