A significant increase during 2017-2018 in e-cigarette use among U.S. youths has erased recent progress in reducing overall tobacco product use in this age group, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.
E-cigarettes are driving the trend. About 4 million high school students in the United States reported using any tobacco product in the last 30 days, and 3 million of them reported using e-cigarettes, according to a Vital Signs document published by the CDC on Feb. 11 in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.*
In addition, many high school students who use e-cigarettes use them often; 28% reported using the products at least 20 times in the past 28 days, up from 20% in 2017.
“Any use of any tobacco product is unsafe for teens,” Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC, said in a teleconference to present the findings. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development in youth, including capacity for learning, memory, and attention, she said.
The rise in e-cigarette use corresponds with the rise in marketing and availability of e-cigarette devices such as JUUL, which dispense nicotine via liquid refill pods available in flavors including strawberry and cotton candy, said Brian King, MPH, PhD, deputy director for research translation at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.
“The advertising will lead a horse to water, the flavors will make them drink, and the nicotine will keep them coming back for more,” said Dr. King.