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E-cigarette use by US high school students falls in 2023: Survey

E-cigarette use among US high school students dropped significantly this year to 10 per cent from 14 per cent, according to a government survey on Thursday (Nov 2), even as the potentially addictive nicotine devices remained the most used tobacco product among teens and children.

The 2023 school-based survey, conducted between March and June, was the first clear sign of a drop in the use of vapes and other e-cigarettes by students, typically aged 14-18 years old, since the COVID-19 pandemic when year-over-year comparisons were difficult.

The annual National Youth Tobacco Survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) described the change for middle school students as not being statistically significant.

It showed that among students in grades 6-8, typically aged 11-13 years old, the change in e-cigarette use was small with an increase to 4.6 per cent from 3.3 per cent in 2022.

The health agencies said the survey shows concerning signs of high use among students, with about half of students who ever tried e-cigarettes reported currently using them, indicating that many who try e-cigarettes remain users.

In total, about 22.2 per cent of the surveyed or 6.2 million high school and middle school students reported using any type of tobacco product, and 10 per cent reported currently using one.

Amongst those who currently use e-cigarettes, 25.2 per cent used e-cigarettes daily and 89.4 per cent used flavoured e-cigarettes, the survey found.

“The decline in e-cigarette use among high school students shows great progress, but our work is far from over,” said Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

“Findings from this report underscore the threat that commercial tobacco product use poses to the health of our nation’s youth.”

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About 7.7 per cent of the surveyed reported using an e-cigarette, making it the most commonly used tobacco products.

Makers of e-cigarettes have come under fire from health regulators in recent years, mainly on concerns they allegedly targeted their marketing at youth and that a new generation would become hooked on nicotine.

“It is terrific news for our nation’s health that e-cigarette use among high school students fell sharply this year,” said Yolonda Richardson, CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“These results are powerful evidence that, with the right policies and public education campaigns, we can drive down and even eliminate youth use of all tobacco products.”

Among students who currently used e-cigarettes, the most commonly reported brands were Elf Bar, followed by Esco Bars, British American Tobacco’s Vuse, JUUL and Mr Fog, the study found.

Marlboro maker Altria Group, which also makes the NJOY e-cigarettes, in a statement pointed to the high use of illicit disposable vapes among the list of top-used devices, calling for more action from the FDA.

“The FDA must move faster and more aggressively to address the unregulated marketplace and prevent youth access to these products,” said Paige Magness, Altria’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs.

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