Teen vaping epidemic ‘threatens to erase progress’ against youth tobacco use as e-cigs drive a 36% surge in children using ‘unsafe’ products
- Since 2011, the number of American children and teenagers using tobacco products has steadily declined
- But from 2017 to 2018, the number of kids smoking cigarettes, cigars and hookahs and vaping rose from 3.6 million to 4.9 million, new CDC figures show
- Vaping has been called an epidemic in the US
- The CDC says the rise of vaping could ‘erase’ the progress public health officials have made reducing harms from tobacco to young people
The number of US children and teenagers using tobacco has increased for the first time since 2011, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data reveal.
Youth vaping has been called an ‘epidemic’ and has driven the rate of tobacco use among minors up to 4.9 million from 3.6 million just the previous year, while the number of children smoking remains stable.
As of 2018, the progress made against underage tobacco use had been ‘erased,’ the CDC declared.
And that devastating reversal has essentially been single-handedly cause by the 1.5 million teens and children that have started vaping trendy e-cigarettes like the notorious Juul.
Well over a quarter of American high school students use tobacco products and with 20 percent vaping, e-cigs are largely to blame for the sudden increase in tobacco, the CDC says
Since 1975, the general trend in teen smoking has been a downward one.
And since the early 2000s, it has seldom ticked up.
The decline in smoking in the general population has been credited with all manner of public health gains against chronic illnesses like heart disease and lung cancer.
Last year, smoking reached an all-time low among American adults – at just 14 percent of the over-18 population – a crowning achievement for US public health officials.
But no sooner could these numbers be celebrated than a new unforeseen adversary emerged, and became a veritable meme among young generations: the e-cigarette.
First thought of as an innovative smoking cessation aid, e-cigs, particularly the sleek Juul that could be passed off as a USB drive, became enormously popular among children and teens.
Smoking is not cool any more – but teenagers seem to believe that vaping is.
Now, over a quarter of high school students admit to using at least one tobacco product, as do over seven percent of middle school students.
Many of those who do smoke conventional cigarettes (just over eight percent of high school students and just under two percent of middle schoolers) also use e-cigarettes.
And the percentage of youth smoking combustible cigarettes hasn’t shifted, placing the blame quite squarely on the shoulders of e-cigs.
‘The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use,’ said CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield.
And no e-cigarette brand is more widely blamed than Juul.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been on a war-path against the market-dominating company, demanding that it pull its sweetly flavored pods of high-potency e-liquid from the shelves and prove that it would stop targeting teenagers with its marketing campaigns.
FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb and Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams have duly dubbed the rise in youth vaping a ‘epidemic,’ and the former has even said that we are in need of medications to help treat nicotine addiction in minors.
The CDC is now joining in the chorus of outrage.
‘It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction,’ said Director Redfield.
As opposed to Commissioner Gottlieb’s request for innovations in teen cessation, however, Redfield offered more measured guidance to stay the course.
‘Despite this troubling trend, we know what works and we must continue to use proven strategies to protect America’s youth from this preventable health risk. Youth use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe,’ he said.