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CDC Reports Increase in Vaping Among Middle Schoolers, Decrease Among High Schoolers

According to new federal data, more middle schoolers are vaping in 2023, while fewer high school students are.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that 10% of students in grades 9-12 said they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, down from 14.1% in 2022.

However, vaping increased at the middle school level, with 4.6% of students in grades 6-8 reporting to have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, up from 3.3% in the previous year. 

The decline in high school vaping is attributed to multiple factors, including national, state, and local efforts to implement tobacco control strategies and FDA restrictions on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the CDC.

Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, stated, “The decline in e-cigarette use among high school students shows great progress, but our work is far from over. Findings from this report underscore the threat that commercial tobacco product use poses to the health of our nation’s youth.”

Vaping involves using battery-operated e-cigarettes to heat a liquid solution, creating an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. Most vapes are disposable and contain nicotine. Doctors have warned that the chemicals in vapes can be more addictive than traditional cigarettes and increase the risk of heart, lung, and blood vessel diseases.

According to the CDC, one in four e-cigarette users who responded to the survey said they vape daily, with nearly 9 in 10 using highly addictive flavored products. The most commonly reported brands were Elf Bar (56.7%), Esco Bars (21.6%), Vuse (20.7%), JUUL (16.5%), and Mr. Fog (13.6%).

The CDC highlighted the increased risks of brain damage, disabilities, and premature death associated with all tobacco products. Although the overall use of any tobacco product among high school students fell from 16.2% to 12.6%, middle school students showed an increase.

The CDC reported that middle schoolers had statistically significant increases in using any tobacco product (from 4.5% to 6.6%) and multiple tobacco products (from 1.5% to 2.5%) in the current year.

E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle school and high school students for the past 10 years, according to the CDC.

Out of all students surveyed in grades 6-12, 10% said they currently use a tobacco product in 2023. Of those, 7.7% reported vaping. Other tobacco products used include cigarettes or cigars (1.6%), nicotine pouches (1.5%), smokeless tobacco or other oral nicotine products (1.2%), hookah (1%), heated tobacco products (1%), and pipe tobacco (0.5%).

While the CDC attributed advertising and misinformation to the ongoing popularity of vaping among young people, some e-cigarette lobbyists welcomed the report.

Michael Landl, director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, which has opposed bans on flavored e-cigarettes in several countries, said, “The data from the CDC demonstrates that the exaggerated panic about teen vaping needs to stop.”

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