Half of children who try vaping become addicted, according to a major CDC analysis that shows millions of school students are using e-cigarettes.
The agency’s annual youth tobacco survey found that in 2023, nearly eight percent of middle and high school students – around 2.1 million children – currently used e-cigarettes, down slightly from 2.55 million in 2022.
But now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 47 percent of children who have ever tried an e-cigarette currently vape.
Vapes with appealing flavors such as cotton candy and creme brulee have hooked millions of young people, with the latest data showing that about 90 percent of them reported using a fruit or candy-flavored product.
Dr Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, the CDC‘s director of smoking and health, said the decline among high schoolers ‘shows great progress’, but noted that the agency’s work to stamp out youth e-cigarette use ‘is far from over’.
Highly potent e-cigarettes are extremely addictive. Of all the young people who had tried one, nearly half became regular users.
Vaping among high schoolers dipped a considerable amount in the last year, suggesting some progress at tamping down teen use
Over 6.2 million school-age children tried tobacco products, such as vapes, cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco in 2023.
Among those who tried e-cigarettes, about 47 percent of them vape to this day and about 25 percent vape daily, about the same rate as last year.
The rates at which high school students vaped declined about 29 percent from 2022, a promising sign that was tempered by the fact that middle schoolers’ use of e-cigarettes jumped nearly 40 percent.
The CDC’s annual Youth Tobacco Survey is a nationally representative sampling of tobacco use and the trend over the past four years has shown that while the rate of young people lighting up is at an all-time low, more young people are going electric.
Of the ten percent of students who reported currently using a tobacco product, nearly eight percent got their nicotine fix from e-cigarettes.
The 2023 survey results indicated that vaping is still a major public health problem, despite declines in use among high school-age people.
The decline from 14.1 percent (2.14 million) to 10 percent shows significant promise, but it does not negate the fact that 1.5 million high schoolers are still addicted.
Dr Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see this substantial decline in e-cigarette use among high schoolers within the past year, which is a win for public health. But we can’t rest on our laurels. There’s more work to be done to build on this progress.’
Results from the survey of middle schoolers specifically suggest that a major problem is just getting worse.
Vaping among middle school students rose precipitously over the past year
Nearly seven percent of middle school students currently use tobacco, a jump from 4.5 percent last year. And of that total of roughly seven percent, 4.6 percent currently use e-cigarettes.
Dr Kittner said: ‘Findings from this report underscore the threat that commercial tobacco product use poses to the health of our nation’s youth. It is imperative that we prevent youth from starting to use tobacco and help those who use tobacco to quit.’
The federal government took a major step in 2019 to stem the tide of nicotine addiction among young people by raising the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.
The Food and Drug Administration, which has the power to review companies’ applications to market their tobacco products, revealed in March that it had sorted through 99 percent of the nearly 26 million applications from vape makers to sell their products, only approving 23 of them.
But anti-smoking advocates believe the government can and should be doing more to prevent young people from buying and using vapes.
Matthew Myers, the former President and CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and a staunch critic of the government’s approach, has told DailyMail.com in the past that the current youth vaping crisis is a product of ‘a combination of timidity and the tobacco industry fighting regulation at every stage.’
The vast majority of youth vapers went for fruit- or candy-flavored vape products in 2023
The maximum level of nicotine permitted in a vape is fixed at 20 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid (two percent) in Europe, the UK, and Canada. These devices last for around 550 to 600 puffs. In the US, it’s fairly easy to find a device or pod containing as much as 5 percent nicotine
Among those regulations that anti-smoking and vaping advocates have fought so hard for is a national standard cap on the amount of nicotine allowed in e-cigarettes.
The maximum level of nicotine permitted in a vape is fixed at 20 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid (two percent) in Europe, the UK, and Canada. These devices last for around 550 to 600 puffs.
But in the US, where one can find a vape with as much as five percent nicotine with ease, those concentrations have been steadily rising for some time. An Elf Bar BC5000 device, which contains five percent nicotine, holds about 5,000 puffs worth.
It is no surprise that children can become addicted to the heavy punch of nicotine that vapes pack within a matter of days.
And flavors like cotton candy and strawberry lemonade in highly-addictive vapes compound the problem further.
Nearly nine in 10 youth vapers in 2023 used the flavored products that advocates and many lawmakers have pushed to ban with lackluster results, as evidenced by the fact that children’s use of flavored products had risen from the 83 percent figure in 2020.
Despite government efforts to crack down on companies marketing to children, the industry is still raking in the gold. A market research firm called Beyond Market Insights estimated the industry’s total value in 2022 to exceed $22 billion. It is projected to hit $169 billion by 2030.