A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) survey released this month has found that e-cigarette use among high schoolers has increased by 78 percent just in the last year, while e-cigarette use among middle schoolers has increased by 50 percent.
The new data has health officials shocked–and taking immediate action against vaping companies that have practices that may appeal to teens and tweens. Following the release of the survey results, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb resolved to crack down on e-cigarette companies that:
- Sell vaping flavors that appeal to kids, like mango, cream, and fruit medley
- Use advertising that appeals to the youth, such as young-looking actors or cartoons
- Sell e-cigarettes and pods online with lax restrictions
What is Vaping & E-Cigarette Use?
E-cigarettes are alternative nicotine delivery systems that allow smokers to inhale a vapor instead of smoke. Initially developed to help cigarette smokers move to a less harmful product on the road to quitting, it has been taken up by people who haven’t previously used tobacco products, most notably, teens. Not only that, but teens that start vaping are significantly more likely to start smoking down the road.
E-cigarette products consist of disposable e-cigarettes, rechargeable e-cigarettes, and refillable e-cigarettes. The most popular product among teens are small rechargeable, refillable JUUL brand vaping products which are small and easily concealable.
Understanding Teen Vaping
While traditional cigarette use is steadily falling among school kids, vaping is a novelty that many children simply don’t know the dangers of. Why is vaping suddenly increasing in popularity among teens? There are several factors at play:
- E-cigarettes can be easily concealed and used indoors.
- Children may not know that e-cigarettes contain nicotine or that they are addictive.
- E-cigarettes currently come in a variety of attractive flavors.
- Parents may not recognize what e-cigarettes look like–some, like JUUL, look like computer flash drives.
Could Your Adolescent Be At Risk To Start Smoking?
About 16 percent of teens try a nicotine product by the time they graduate high school–how can you know if your child might be at risk to start smoking? A five-year Canadian study of over 1,300 youth recently found that risk factors include:
- Kids who are friends with kids who smoke
- Kids who have tried drinking alcohol
- Kids who are friends with kids who drink alcohol
- Kids who are worried about their weight/appearance
- Kids who are worried about family relationships
- Kids who feel hopeless about the future
Resources For You And Your Teen
Thanks to the FDA crackdown, JUUL has agreed to greatly limit selling flavors and to shut down its social media presence. But while federal regulations on vaping products will help the epidemic, you can still play a role in making sure your own teen doesn’t start.
- A tip sheet for parents who want to talk to their teens about e-cigarettes, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Resources about quitting nicotine, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- More information about teen vaping
About Sarah Aswell
Sarah Aswell is a freelance writer who lives in Missoula, Montana with her husband and two daughters. Her writing has appeared in publications that include The New Yorker, Healthline, Success Magazine, Working Mother, and Scary Mommy.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Results from 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm625917.htm
- Leventhal, A. (2015.) Association of Electronic Cigarette Use With Initiation of Combustible Tobacco Product Smoking in Early Adolescence. JAMA. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26284721
- McMillen, R. (2018.) Adolescent Use of Different E-cigarette Products. Pediatrics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30201626
- Sylvestre, M. (2018.) A Tool to Identify Adolescents at Risk of Cigarette Smoking Initiation. Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/5/e20173701.supplemental