Youth use of e-cigarettes is rising at the fastest-recorded rate for any substance.
Vaping has exploded in popularity in recent years — but not among the people it was intended for. Rather than adults trying to quit smoking, young people who’ve never picked up a cigarette are now vaping in record numbers.
According to a new Vital Signs report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, some 4.9 million high school and middle school students used tobacco in the last 30 days, an increase from 3.6 million in 2017. E-cigarettes were the most popular tobacco product among the children and adolescents.
The report follows a late 2018 National Institutes of Health survey, which tracked substance use among American adolescents. It found the number of high school seniors who say they vaped nicotine in the past 30 days doubled since 2017 — from 11 percent to nearly 21 percent. That was the largest increase ever recorded in any substance in the survey’s 43-year history. And it meant a quarter of 12th-grade students are now using, at least occasionally, a nicotine device that’s so new we have no idea what the long-term health impact of using it will be.
Young people’s extraordinarily rapid uptake of nicotine-delivery devices is one of the reasons Food and Drug Administration director Scott Gottlieb called for stronger regulations Monday. “Based on a growing body of evidence, I fear the youth trends will continue in 2019, forcing us to make some tough decisions about the regulatory status of e-cigarettes,” he said in a statement. “The signs that we’re seeing are not encouraging.”
The reason for the concern: nicotine is a