As concerns about the potential health risks of vaping continue to grow, a new youth tobacco use survey published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 25% of U.S. high school students and 11% of middle school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2019. Not only does the CDC report demonstrate the dramatic increase in the use of tobacco products among school-age youth from previous years, it highlights the scope of the teen vaping problem in the United States, which has reached an epidemic proportion. If you or someone you know has developed an addiction to e-cigarettes or suffered a serious lung injury from vaping, contact an experienced e-cigarette injury attorney as soon as possible to find out whether you are eligible for compensation.
The CDC’s findings, published last week in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, included data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, an annual school-based survey that looks at all forms of tobacco use among middle and high school students across the United States. According to the report, for the sixth year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most common form of tobacco use, ahead of cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipes and smokeless tobacco. The survey found that more than half of high school students and one-quarter of middle school students have tried tobacco in some form and one-third of high school students and one in eight middle school students are current tobacco users.
As far as the reasons why teens and youth start vaping, more than half of students said curiosity is what caused them to start and one-quarter of students said they started using e-cigarettes because of the multitude of appealing candy-like flavors available on the market. Research has shown that teens who use e-cigarettes are four times as likely to start smoking combustible cigarettes, particularly teens who use flavored e-cigarettes. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Pediatrics, based on data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, approximately 58% of teens who used flavored e-cigarettes said they planned to start smoking combustible cigarettes, compared to 47% of teens who used non-flavored e-cigarettes. Notably, only 20% of teens who did not use e-cigarettes said they planned to start smoking.
In this latest CDC report, nearly 30% of students surveyed said they believed that vaping posed little to no risk of side effects, which is a common misconception about e-cigarette use that has been attributed to deceptive marketing tactics by the makers of e-cigarettes. JUUL Labs, the maker of the popular brand of e-cigarettes known as JUUL, has been sued for illegally targeting youths in its advertising and making false claims that JUUL e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to cigarettes. The lawsuits against JUUL Labs allege that these deceptive marketing tactics have caused millions of underage consumers to use JUUL e-cigarettes without realizing the potential risk of harm the devices pose. This dramatic increase in teen use of vaping products has resulted in an e-cigarette epidemic that has adversely impacted youth health and public schools.
In addition to the risk of developing a nicotine addiction, e-cigarette use poses other serious potential health risks. Over the past several months, more than 2,000 people have developed severe lung illnesses and 48 people have died as a result of problems associated with the use of e-cigarette products. As of December 3, a total of 2,291 vaping-related lung injury cases have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, affecting people between the ages of 13 and 75. The vaping lung injury outbreak, according to the CDC, has been linked to the use of an additive called vitamin E acetate in some THC-containing e-cigarette products. Vitamin E acetate is commonly used in skin care products and dietary supplements, but when the chemical is inhaled, it has been shown to interfere with normal lung function.
According to the 2019 national tobacco survey, nearly 60% of students said they were seriously considering quitting the use of tobacco. Unfortunately, research suggests that quitting e-cigarettes can be more difficult than quitting combustible cigarettes. According to Dr. Barbosa, medical director of CleanSlate Outpatient Addiction Medicine in Orlando, Florida, vaping is more addictive than smoking traditional cigarettes “because the concentrated liquid form [of nicotine] is more quickly metabolized.” That means vaping, which has been aggressively marketed as a means of helping smokers give up tobacco once and for all, may actually perpetuate nicotine addiction, in some cases making it even more difficult for smokers to quit.