One in Five High School Students Still Use E-Cigarettes, CDC Study Reveals

Despite increasing concerns about the potential health risks of vaping and new restrictions on the sale of e-cigarette products, one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students in the United States still vape, says a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed that while fewer teens are using e-cigarettes now than in 2019, there are still more than 3.5 million middle school and high school students who currently vape. If you or someone you know has experienced a serious side effect allegedly caused by e-cigarette use, contact our consumer advocates at the Leading Justice today. We can help put you in touch with an experienced product liability attorney who can determine whether you are eligible for an e-cigarette injury claim.

Epidemic of Teen E-Cigarette Use in the U.S.

E-cigarettes are widely recognized as the most popular tobacco product among middle school and high school students in the United States, and the use of e-cigarettes among U.S. youth and teens has increased dramatically over the past decade, due in large part to the introduction and aggressive marketing of flavored products that appeal to adolescents. Said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar in an FDA press release issued in January 2020, “The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes.” This widespread use of e-cigarettes by U.S. teens is particularly concerning given the fact that vaping can put them at risk for nicotine addiction and other serious health consequences and also increases the likelihood that they will try conventional cigarettes in the future.

Millions of School-Age Youths Vape

In compiling data for this most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released on September 18, 2020, the CDC and FDA analyzed the results of the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a nationally representative survey of middle school and high school students in the U.S. that was conducted during January 16 – March 16, 2020. According to the report, 19.6% of U.S. high school students (3.02 million or approximately one in five students) and 4.7% of middle school students (550,000 or approximately one in 20 students) are current users of e-cigarettes. Of those current users, 82.9% use flavored e-cigarettes, including 84.7% of high school users (2.53 million) and 73.9% of middle school users (400,000).

Although the e-cigarette use data for 2020 reflects an encouraging decline in use from 2019, there are still nearly 3.6 million school-age youths who report current use of e-cigarettes (use within the last 30 days), and among high school and middle school current e-cigarette users, the most commonly used device type was prefilled pods or cartridges, like JUUL. Furthermore, among current users, eight in 10 reported using flavored e-cigarette products like fruit, mint and menthol flavors, which have long been the subject of significant controversy, especially because of their potential appeal to adolescents. In February 2020, in response to the widespread use of e-cigarettes among teens and the growing popularity of flavored e-cigarette products, the FDA instituted a policy prioritizing enforcement against the manufacture, sale and distribution of certain unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarette products that appeal to children, including fruit and mint.

Vaping No Safer than Smoking Cigarettes

Many current teen e-cigarette users in the U.S. began vaping under the assumption that it was a safer alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes, unaware that most e-cigarette products contain nicotine and possibly other harmful substances, which increases the risk of nicotine addiction as well as future addiction to other drugs, and may also be harmful to their health. In fact, researchers warn that the use of e-cigarettes among adolescents and young adults who have never used any tobacco products but initiate e-cigarette use increases the likelihood that they will become lifetime users of e-cigarettes, conventional cigarettes or other tobacco products. In an effort to prevent and reduce youth e-cigarette use across the United States, several states and communities have taken the FDA’s enforcement policy prohibiting the sale of prefilled pod or cartridge-based e-cigarettes in any flavor other than tobacco or menthol one step farther and implemented restrictions on the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, including menthol flavors.

Filing an E-Cigarette Injury Claim for Compensation

The CDC warns that “the use of any tobacco product by youths is unsafe, including electronic cigarettes.” Most e-cigarette products contain nicotine, which is extremely addictive and can have a damaging effect on the developing brains of adolescent users. Teen nicotine use can also increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs. In fact, a 2015 study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that “Students who have used electronic cigarettes by the time they start ninth grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products within the next year.” If you or a loved one has developed a nicotine addiction or another serious vaping-related side effect, do not hesitate to consult a knowledgeable e-cigarette injury attorney to discuss your legal options. Our consumer advocates at Leading Justice can help, so call us today.

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