Washington, DC–More than 3.6 million middle and high school students were current (past 30 day) e-cigarette users in 2018, a dramatic increase of more than 1.5 million students since last year, according to the new findings of the National Youth Tobacco Survey released today by FDA and CDC.
The number of U.S. high school students who reported being current e-cigarette users increased 78 percent between 2017 and 2018 to 3.05 million (or 20.8 percent). Numbers among middle school students rose 48 percent to 570,000 (or 4.9 percent).
The study authors suggest the rise in e-cigarette use in the last year is likely due to the recent popularity of certain types of e-cigarettes, such as JUUL. These products include ones that are cartridge-based, can be used discreetly because of their resemblance to slim USB flash drives, have a high nicotine content and come in appealing fruit and candy flavors.
The increased popularity of e-cigarettes among youth raises a number of other health concerns: risk of addiction to nicotine early on in life; potential harm from nicotine exposure to the developing adolescent brain; and exposure to chemicals associated with adverse health effects.
In addition, research shows that, compared with non-users, youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to transition to conventional cigarettes ‒ risking a lifetime of addiction to smoking and resulting smoking-attributable disease.
The uptick in e-cigarette use has led overall tobacco product use to increase by 38 percent among high school students (to 27.1 percent) and by 29 percent among middle school students (to 7.2 percent) in the last year, reversing the positive decline seen over the last few years.