Vaping Among Teens Is On The Rise Again

A new study is showing that vaping among teens has risen sharply since the school year started

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

Vaping among teens is at epidemic levels, which has prompted concerns from parents, schools, advocacy groups, and lawmakers. However, vaping numbers started to drop last year, which was encouraging news. Unfortunately, that dip was short-lived, according to the most recent study.

Every year the National Youth Tobacco Survey polls students in middle and high schools nationwide. Typically, they do the polling at schools. But they adjusted their collection methods with Covid, and this year they gathered survey results in a hybrid fashion.

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration conducted the survey jointly between January and May. According to the data, 14.1% of high schoolers and 3.3% of middle schoolers admitted to recently using a vaping product. In numerical terms, that means 2.55 million students reported vaping in this survey.

Among that group, 84.5% favored flavored e-cigarettes, which commonly come in fruity flavors. The preference for fruity vaping products among teens is part of why the FDA banned Juul from selling its products in June. That order is currently on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit Juul filed against the agency.

But as shocking as those statistics are, the chief of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health epidemiology branch, Linda Neff, has another concern. For Neff, “What is even more disturbing is the frequency of use. Among those who currently use e-cigarettes, more than 1 in 4 use them daily.”

And according to the survey, high school students use vaping products most frequently. The results showed that among that demographic, 46% vaped almost daily. It is discouraging news to everyone who had gotten their hopes up after the drop in vaping numbers during the pandemic.

The jump in kids who reported vaping still has not returned to pre-pandemic numbers, though it is close. In 2020, almost 20% of high schoolers and 5% of middle schoolers surveyed reported vaping recently. The most discouraging news for those concerned is that these numbers remain high despite efforts made by the FDA, lawmakers, and local advocacy groups.

In January 2020, the FDA issued guidelines that producers of non-disposable vapes could no longer sell their products in flavors that appealed to kids. It resulted in countless companies popping up with disposable products in minty or fruity flavors. And those have become a major favorite among the youth.

While the FDA requires pre-authorization before marketing disposable vaping products, many producers ignore that. One of those is a company called Puff Bars, which is quite popular with kids. It is so popular that according to NBC, the FDA sent the company a warning letter on Thursday for failing to seek prior authorization.

And while the battle over vaping rages at higher levels, where does that leave the kids? Thanks to programs like the Truth Initiative, they are not alone. They offer anonymous support via its This is Quitting program, which kids can access via text.