The number of U.S. youths who use e-cigarettes fell from 5.4 million in 2019 to 3.6 million this year -- but vaping remains a dangerous epidemic among children and teens, a new government report shows.
"Although the decline in e-cigarette use among our nation's youth is a notable public health achievement, our work is far from over," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an agency news release. "Youth e-cigarette use remains an epidemic, and [the] CDC is committed to supporting efforts to protect youth from this preventable health risk."
The analysis of National Youth Tobacco Survey data also found that 8 in 10 current youth vapers use flavored e-cigarettes. The use of fruit, mint and menthol flavors of e-cigarettes was common among young users.
The survey of U.S. middle schoolers and high school students was conducted from Jan. 16 to March 16, and the findings were analyzed by researchers from the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The data show that 19.6% of high school students and 4.7% of middle school students used e-cigarettes in 2020, down from 27.5% and 10.5%, respectively, in 2019.
As in 2019, pre-filled pods/cartridges were the most commonly used device type among youth e-cigarette users in 2020. However, from 2019 to 2020, disposable e-cigarette use increased from 2.4% to 26.5% -- a 1,000% increase -- among high school e-cigarette users and from 3% to 15.2% -- a 400% increase -- among middle school e-cigarette users.
The findings were published Sept. 9 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"These findings reinforce the importance of continuing to focus on the strategies that work to reduce youth tobacco product use while keeping pace with emerging trends in tobacco products," said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
"Implementing these strategies at the national, state and local levels is integral to preventing and reducing youth tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes," Hacker added in the release.
While the decline in youth vaping is good news, "the FDA remains very concerned about the 3.6 million U.S. youth who currently use e-cigarettes and we acknowledge there is work that still needs to be done to curb youth use. Youth use of e-cigarettes remains a public health crisis and we will do everything possible to stop it, including new actions we are taking today," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in an FDA news release.
"The findings come as we mark today's premarket review submission deadline, a milestone for ensuring new tobacco products, including many already on the market, undergo a robust scientific evaluation by the FDA. Scientific review of new products is a critical part of how we carry out our mission to protect the public -- especially kids -- from the harms associated with tobacco use," Hahn said.
The U.S. Surgeon General has more on the risks of e-cigarettes to youth.
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