The quantity of highschool college students frequently utilizing e-cigarettes dropped considerably over the previous 12 months, after a number of years of hovering use, in keeping with a brand new authorities survey of youngsters.
But the info urged that even higher progress might have been stymied by the rising reputation of a brand new product — disposable e-cigarettes, which, beneath a loophole in federal laws, are nonetheless allowed to be bought in youth-friendly flavors.
The shifting developments have been captured by the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, an annual take a look at teen use of tobacco-related merchandise, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This 12 months’s information assortment was much less thorough than in years previous as a result of the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the complete survey cycle.
Still, sufficient information was collected to point out some distinct developments. Among highschool college students, 19.6 p.c reported utilizing an e-cigarette not less than as soon as within the prior 30 days, down sharply from 27.5 p.c in 2019. That amounted to a decline of 1 million common customers — to three million, down from four.1 million a 12 months earlier.
Self-reported use of e-cigarettes additionally decreased amongst center faculty college students, to 550,000 customers from 1.24 million. E-cigarette use had been rising persistently since 2011, although each teams noticed a dip between 2105 and 2016.
In an announcement, the C.D.C. director, Robert R. Redfield, known as the decline a “notable public health achievement.” But, he cautioned: “Youth e-cigarette use remains an epidemic.”
This sharp decline displays a drumbeat of effort from public well being consultants to light up the dangers of e-cigarettes, mixed with a real-world lesson in these dangers: At least 68 folks died and a pair of,807 had been hospitalized as of February of this 12 months from a lung-related illness linked to vaping, according to the C.D.C.
Many of those cases were linked to vaping cannabis products that had been mixed with a chemical called vitamin E acetate, but some patients had vaped nicotine as well, and the mysterious illness helped prompt state and federal actions aimed at curbing teen use of vaping products.
Eventually the Trump administration instituted a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. It contained a loophole, however: Though the ban applied to popular devices like Juul that are sold with replaceable cartridges, it still allowed the sale of flavored disposable e-cigarettes.
Sales of disposable flavored products have since soared among teens using e-cigarettes, the new survey confirmed — rising 1,000 percent. In 2020, 26.5 percent of regular high school e-cigarette users said they had used disposable products over the last 30 days, compared to 2.4 percent a year earlier. Notably, eight in 10 youth users said they were vaping “fruit and mint-flavored e-cigarettes,” according to the C.D.C.
“The decline is good news, but it is really a historic opportunity missed,” said Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He said more significant changed could have happened “if they had banned all flavored products. The fact that they didn’t meant kids just moved and didn’t quit.”