New CDC/FDA data show sharp increase in youth use of disposable e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 9, 2020 — Results of the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlight the rapidly growing use of disposable e-cigarettes, which are exempt from an FDA policy issued earlier this year to limit the availability of flavored products that appeal to kids.

Although pre-filled pods or cartridges remain the most commonly used device among youth, disposable e-cigarette use increased approximately 1,000% (from 2.4% to 26.5%) among high school current e-cigarette users and approximately 400% (from 3.0% to 15.2%) among middle school current e-cigarette users during 2019-2020.

The data collection timeline for this survey was truncated because of widespread school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results show approximately one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students currently use e-cigarettes. While this reflects a decline in current e-cigarette use since 2019, the data show that 3.6 million U.S. youth continue to use e-cigarettes, and that they continue to favor e-cigarette products that can still be sold in appealing flavors.

The American Heart Association released the following statement:

“The overall reduction in e-cigarette use among youth is a positive sign, but the continued popularity of flavored products that are still allowed on the market is troubling. These numbers confirm what we already knew, the e-cigarette epidemic in our country is far from over. The tobacco industry has successfully hooked a new generation with their flavored products, and they continue to create new avenues to keep kids using their products.

“One in five high school students are using e-cigarettes and more than 80% of those young people using flavored e-cigarettes. While we have made some progress, millions of kids are still using these products and flavors continue to attract new youth users. As we have previously stated, the Trump administration’s policy, which allowed menthol pod-based e-cigarettes, flavored e-liquids used in open tank systems and flavored disposable e-cigarettes to remain on the market, fell short. This report shows that youth have simply moved to the flavored products that remain on the market, resulting in a significant increase in use of disposable e-cigarettes and the prominent use of menthol-flavored products.

“It is important to recognize that the timeline for this survey for was abbreviated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to subsequent and more comprehensive surveys that provide data on youth tobacco use and the impact of COVID-19. In the meantime, this report will serve as a powerful tool, clearly highlighting the continued popularity of flavored e-cigarettes among young people, and the flaws with a policy that allows any flavored e-cigarette or flavored tobacco product to remain on the market. We continue to urge the FDA to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

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About the American Heart Association
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