Youth E-Cig Use: Down but Still Widespread

E-cigarette use dropped among youth, but many still use the nicotine devices

(RxWiki News) In the span of one year, roughly 1.8 million fewer young people reported using electronic cigarettes. But that means around 3.6 million children and adolescents said they still used the devices.

In 2019, 5.4 million respondents to the National Youth Tobacco Survey said they had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. In the 2020 survey, 3.6 million young people said they used e-cigs.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this progress was encouraging, but the efforts to reduce youth nicotine use were ongoing.

“Although the decline in e-cigarette use among our nation’s youth is a notable public health achievement, our work is far from over,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield in a press release. “Youth e-cigarette use remains an epidemic, and CDC is committed to supporting efforts to protect youth from this preventable health risk.”

E-cigs are battery-powered devices that heat a metallic coil to vaporize a solution that contains nicotine. The user then inhales the vapor.

While some research suggests that e-cigs may deliver fewer toxins than conventional tobacco cigarettes, other research shows that certain chemicals found in the liquids used in the devices can be harmful. Also, the liquids and electronic devices are largely unregulated. That leaves potential for harm.

Furthermore, like conventional cigarettes, these devices deliver nicotine, which is a highly addictive chemical. Some studies have found that young e-cig users may be more likely to transition to conventional cigarette use later on.

The researchers behind the recent findings on e-cig use among young people did not examine why the numbers of e-cig users might have decreased. But CDC officials did say they were looking to the future in the fight to reduce nicotine use among children and teens.

“These findings reinforce the importance of continuing to focus on the strategies that work to reduce youth tobacco product use while keeping pace with emerging trends in tobacco products,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in a press release.

The CDC listed some of the following potential strategies to reduce e-cig use among young people:

  • Regulation of manufacturing and sales of e-cigs and e-liquids
  • Reducing access to flavored e-cig products
  • Increasing the price of e-liquids and e-cigs
  • Developing anti-nicotine educational initiatives
  • Including e-cigs in smoking-restricted areas
  • Licensing e-cig retailers

This recent drop in youth e-cig use was reported in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 12, 2020