Youth smoking decline stalls, and vaping may be to blame

Grant Boone
February 14, 2019

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vital Signs report examined tobacco product use changes among USA middle and high school students from the 2011-2018 National Youth Tobacco Surveys and found that about 4.9 million youth were current tobacco users in 2018, with 1.5 million more e-cigarette users in 2018 than the year before. He also said that health agencies such as the Center for Disease Control, warn against vaping because it carries long-term negative health effects.

The study has compared new heated tobacco devices, which heat solid tobacco instead of an e-liquid, with vaping and traditional cigarettes showing that all the three are toxic to the cells.

The new report builds on evidence that youth e-cigarette use raises the risk of graduating to combustible cigarettes, he said.

Commenting on the rise of e-cigarette use, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said, "These data are a sobering reminder of the rampant rise of youth e-cigarette use".

"E-cigarettes could be playing a role in the patterns of use we're seeing among kids in terms of cigarette smoking", he said, adding, "It is possible that we are reinforcing and perpetuating dependency".

The CDC said e-cigarette use among high school students who use tobacco products increased from 11.7 percent to 20.8 percent from 2017 to 2018 and from 3.3 percent to 4.9 percent among middle school students. But with the introduction of e-cigarettes, the trend of nicotine uptake is not likely to slow down in the coming years.

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E-cigarettes are generally considered better than cigarettes for adults who are already addicted to nicotine. E-cigarette youth users were up by 1.5 million users in 2018 and for the fifth year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product. Some had linked e-cigarettes to an unusually large drop in teen smoking a few years ago, and they say it's not clear to what extent the decline in smoking has stalled or to what degree vaping is to blame. Men also used tobacco products more frequently than women.

"JUUL also has a high nicotine content, among the highest of any e-cigarette on the US market", King continued.

"JUUL entered the USA market in 2015 and since December 2017 has held the greatest market share of any e-cigarette in the United States". "Irrespective of whether its middle or high school, the most common combination is e-cigarettes and cigarettes".

Juul flavors such as mango, fruit and creme will now only be available on the company's website, where it said it was adding additional age-verification measures. "The devices also use nicotine salts, which can allow high amounts of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than the free-based nicotine that's used in most other e-cigarettes".

"Many of JUUL's public statements seem inconsistent with its previous representations to the FDA", Gottlieb wrote in the letter.

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