Public health experts are continuing to sound the alarm on the teen vaping epidemic, tying the 1.3 million increase in teen tobacco users from 2017 to 2018 directly to e-cigarettes. The rise has been so significant that it has wiped out any progress in declining youth tobacco use in recent years, according to a report published Monday.
The report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically singled out e-cigarette giant Juul as a contributing factor to the escalating rates.
“The bottom line is, we have considerably troubling news on the tobacco control front when it comes to kids,” said Brian King, a deputy director in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and co-author of the report.
King said that the rise in vaping was the single biggest jump in teen use of a tobacco product since the beginning of the survey in 1999.
King and his colleagues analyzed data from the 2011-18 National Youth Tobacco survey to estimate trends among high school and middle school students and found that in 2018, 27% of high school students and 7.2% of middle school students said they used tobacco for one or more days in the month.
Among all tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and hookah, e-cigarettes — also known as vapes — were the ones most commonly used by teens; 3.05 million or 20.8% of high school students and 570,000 or 4.9% of middle school students said they vaped at least once in the previous month. Also, there were 1.5 million more teens using e-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2017.
The researchers also found no significant change in the current use of combustible tobacco products by teens, other than e-cigarettes, that drove the overall increase in youth tobacco use. Notably, no decline in use of other tobacco products was identified.
Before 2018, high school e-cigarette use had peaked in 2015 with 16% of students vaping. Use of e-cigarettes fell for the first time in the history of the survey by 29% in 2016, and the drop was sustained through 2017. However, in 2017-18, e-cigarette use jumped 77.8% among high schoolers and 48.5% among middle schoolers, erasing any previous declines.
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