'Epidemic' Levels Reached: High School Use of E-cigarettes Jumps 78 Percent, with 1.4 Million New Youth Users in One Year

American Lung Association calls on FDA, state and local governments to take swift and meaningful action to end youth use of e-cigarettes

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the results of the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). In response, American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer issued the following statement:

“Teen e-cigarette use is a public health emergency and it requires a comprehensive nationwide response to protect this generation of children and teens.

“Today, data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) confirmed what we have long warned about: that youth use of e-cigarettes, including the e-cigarette JUUL, is at epidemic levels. Now, one in five high school students use e-cigarettes, a 78 percent increase from 2017. In 2018, there was also a nearly 50 percent increase in use among middle schoolers. This means more than three and a half million children were ‘vaping’ in early 2018, up 1.4 million from 2017.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for our nation: urgent action is needed at all levels of government. Further delay puts the health and future of our children at risk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must use its authority and take urgent action to remove all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, from the marketplace. FDA must also review the ingredients and the impact on the public health of each e-cigarette product before it is allowed to stay on the marketplace.

“Earlier today, FDA announced it will allow menthol and mint e-cigarettes to remain on store shelves – despite this study showing the use of menthol- and mint-flavored e-cigarettes has increased among high school students and now more than half of high school e-cigarette users are ones with menthol and mint flavors.   Sales restrictions on some flavors simply does not go far enough in responding to this public health epidemic.

“The Lung Association also calls on state and local governments to act to implement proven measures to reduce youth use of e-cigarettes, including taxing e-cigarettes at levels equivalent to cigarettes; adding e-cigarettes to smokefree laws; raising the minimum age of sale of all tobacco products to 21; and fully funding tobacco prevention programs including mass-media campaigns aimed at preventing youth use. The Lung Association also urges state and local leaders to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

“The nicotine in tobacco products including e-cigarettes is not only highly addictive, but can also cause harm adolescent brain development and developing bodies and lungs. The American Lung Association implores FDA as well as state and local leaders to take bold steps to prevent the loss of another generation to tobacco-caused death and disease before it is too late.”

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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