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Youth vaping reaches ‘disturbing’ levels: survey

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Atlanta — More than 1 out of 4 high school students and more than 1 out of 10 middle school students report they have vaped within the past 30 days, according to “disturbing” results of the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey administered by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey features responses from more than 10,000 high school students and nearly 9,000 middle school students. Results show that 27.5% of the respondents in high school and 10.5% in middle school have vaped over the past 30 days. Overall, an estimated 5.3 million youth use e-cigarettes – an increase of about 1.4 million from 2018 – and nearly 1 million do so daily.

Although cigarette use in the past 30 days has dropped to 5.8% among high school students and 2.3% of middle school students in 2019, FDA and CDC find the increase of e-cigarette use is “undermining progress” in reducing overall tobacco use. In a September 2018, press release, then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said youth e-cigarette use has “reached nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth.”

FDA warns that e-cigarette use puts youth at risk of developing nicotine addiction and may trigger other adverse health effects – even death.

“Nicotine exposure during adolescence could harm brain development,” reads an infographic released in conjunction with the survey results. “Additionally, youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking cigarettes. Further, e-cigarette aerosol may expose users to other harmful substances such as heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles that could harm the lungs.”

In an Oct. 3 press release, American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer calls the youth e-cigarette epidemic “extremely alarming.”

“The inhalation of harmful chemicals found in e-cigarettes can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease, and developing lungs are more at risk,” Wimmer said. “We are facing a true public health emergency, and urgent action is required.”

The Office of the Surgeon General offers several tips for parents to help combat the epidemic, including:

  • Learn about the different shapes, types and risks of e-cigarette use.
  • Set a good example by being tobacco-free. If you use tobacco products, consult a health professional, visit smokefree.gov or call (800) QUIT-NOW to take steps toward quitting.
  • Adopt tobacco-free rules, including e-cigarettes, in your home and vehicle.
  • Talk with your child about why e-cigarettes are harmful.

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