Vaping by US teenagers fell dramatically, especially among middle schoolers
A recent survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that in 2020 just under 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students said they were using electronic cigarettes and other vaping products. That marks a significant drop from a similar survey last year that found about 28% of high school students and 11% of middle school students recently vaped. The data indicates that the number of school kids who use e-cigarettes dropped by 1.8 million in a year, from 5.4 million to 3.6 million.
“With the pandemic making all the headlines, it’s satisfying to see some positive results concerning a public health issue that has had a tremendous impact on the lives of our teens and young people,” explained Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “The news is good but teen vaping is still an epidemic in the US. More than 3 million young people still using e-cigarettes so there’s still work to be done.”
Ocean County Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer, Daniel Regenye said the national survey is conducted at schools each year by the CDC and usually 20,000 middle and high school students participate. It asks students if they had used any vaping or traditional tobacco products in the previous month. The survey was cut short this year as schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the Public Health community was pleasantly surprised by the data,” Regenye said. “Measures such as public health media and awareness campaigns, the increase of price and sales restrictions together with raising the age limit for sales to 21 – all contributed to the decline.”
Officials also acknowledge the COVID-19 outbreak more than likely had a role in the decline. Sales started falling in late summer after the national media coverage of the outbreak intensified and the heightened awareness made an impact. By the time the outbreak hit early this year, more than 2,800 illnesses and 68 deaths had been reported. Most of those who got sick said they vaped solutions containing THC, the ingredient that produces a marijuana high. CDC officials focused their investigation on black market THC cartridges and on a chemical compound called vitamin E acetate that had been added to illicit THC vaping liquids.
But even as teen use declined, the survey also revealed an increase in the use of disposable
e-cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year banned flavors from small vaping devices and others that are mostly used by minors. The policy did not apply to disposable e-cigarettes, which can still contain sweet, candy-like flavors.
“Overall the teen vaping data is extremely encouraging and the timing couldn’t be any better now that the pandemic and start of the flu season are converging,” added Patricia High, OCHD Assistant Public Health Coordinator. “All of these can lead to significant respiratory breakdown and put an added burden on our health care systems at a time when resources have already been stretched.”
For additional information on vaping and the recent CDC study please visit cdc.gov. To find all the latest flu and COVID-19 news and information visit www.ochd.org, follow us on our Facebook page or Twitter @OCpublichealth.
The OCHD is also providing a general COVID-19 Information Call Hot Line for residents and clinicians to answer questions regarding the coronavirus. The number is 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.
The NJDOH (NJPIES) hotline is available for questions around the clock at 1-800-222-1222 or by dialing 2-1-1. Other related sources; for medical COVID-19 questions call 1-800-962-1253 or Text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive alerts.