Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigs) and other “vaping” devices (such as JUUL or Suorin) are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn chemicals, including highly addictive nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user. Most e-cigs are manufactured to look like conventional cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some resemble everyday items such as pens and USB memory sticks, and are known as tanks, vape pens, vaporizers, and e-pipes.
The FDA, in partnership with the CDC, released new data from the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), which shows 1.8 million fewer U.S. youth are currently using e-cigarettes compared to 2019.
The decline reported in 2020 is encouraging news; however, FDA officials said they remain very concerned about the 3.6 million U.S. youth who currently use e-cigarettes and the agency acknowledges there is work that still needs to be done to curb youth use.
In 2020, 19.6% of high school students (3.02 million) and 4.7% of middle school students (550,000) reported current e-cigarette use. Among current e-cigarette users, 38.9% of high school students and 20.0% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes on 20 or more of the past 30 days; 22.5% of high school users and 9.4% of middle school users reported daily use. Among all current e-cigarette users, 82.9% used flavored e-cigarettes, including 84.7% of high school users (2.53 million) and 73.9% of middle school users (400,000).
Why is youth vaping a concern?
Nicotine alters the adolescent brain. It increases their risk for:
Stunted learning and recall.
Diminished enjoyment of activities they normally adore.
Among youth — who use e-cigarettes at higher rates than adults do — there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of transitioning to smoking conventional cigarettes. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found youth who vaped e-cigs were nearly 4 times more likely to smoke. Current use of electronic cigarettes increased among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2015. About 5 of every 100 middle school students (5.3%) reported in 2015 that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from 0.6% in 2011. 16 of every 100 high school students (16.0%) reported in 2015 that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from 1.5% in 2011.
In its report, “Nicotine Without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction,” the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom recommended promoting both quit-smoking medications and e-cigarettes as a way to help people avoid the harms caused by smoking combustible tobacco products. The FDA has not made such recommendations.