After substantial efforts to combat the teen vaping epidemic in the U.S. over the past decade, a recent federal survey indicates a significant reduction in tobacco use among teens this year.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report a decline in vaping from 14% to 10% across all middle and high school students compared to the previous year.
The findings, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on November 2, are based on data from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) conducted from March to June 2023.
Overall, 2.8 million teens reported using any tobacco product this year, marking a decrease from 17% in 2022 to 13% in 2023. The primary factor behind this decline was a reduction in e-cigarette use, which dropped from 14% to 10%, resulting in 580,000 fewer high school students reporting current e-cigarette use in 2023.
However, middle schoolers experienced an overall increase in tobacco use, rising from 4.5% to 6.6%, along with an increase in the concurrent use of multiple tobacco products, which increased from 1.5% to 2.5%.
The survey revealed that the use of any specific tobacco product among middle schoolers, including e-cigarettes, did not change significantly. Among teens who reported using e-cigarettes, 25% stated they vaped every day. Popular e-cigarette brands included Elf Bar (used by nearly 60% of students), Esco Bars (22%), Vuse (21%), JUUL (17%), and Mr. Fog (14%).
Notably, disposables were the most common type of e-cigarette used by teens compared to cartridge-based products. Additionally, teens reported reduced use of cigars and traditional tobacco cigarettes, reaching an all-time low.
For the first time, the survey included questions about the use of flavors with the terms "ice" or "iced" in the name, as well as flavors implying but not explicitly indicating a specific taste, such as "island bash." Nearly 90% of teens who reported using e-cigarettes stated they used flavored products, with popular flavors including fruit, candy, mint, and menthol.
Research suggests that teens using nontraditional e-cigarette flavors are more likely to vape frequently and continue use. Flavored vapes may contribute to addiction and an increased risk of heart disease, as indicated by previous studies.
While the decrease in vaping is viewed positively, health officials remain concerned about the persistent popularity of e-cigarettes among youth, driven largely by advertising and social media influence. Despite the decline, e-cigarettes remain the most commonly used tobacco product among high school and middle school students for the tenth consecutive year.
In 2021, the FDA implemented measures such as rejecting vape product approval applications and issuing bans on 55,000 e-cigarette products.
The FDA continues enforcement actions against illegal e-cigarettes, including Elf Bar, with plans for additional measures against unauthorized manufacturers and distributors.