February 22, 2019

The Resurgence of Teen Smoking

“Between 1997 and 2015, the U.S. high school smoking rate declined by an astonishing 70 percent — the result of almost two decades of public health initiatives, prompted by alarm over an uptick in teen smoking in the 1990s. The downward trend led some to predict that teen smoking could be entirely eliminated by 2035.

And then e-cigarettes came along.

In September 2018, the Washington Post reported that unreleased public health data showed there had been a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in 2018, compared to 2017. The FDA reportedly declined to release the data, according to The Post, but at the time, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called teenage vaping an “epidemic.”

On Friday, Gottlieb expanded on his months-long anti-teen vaping campaign, expounding on public health data: the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey confirms, according to Gottlieb, that youth use of e-cigarettes from 2017 to 2018 increased by 78 percent among high school students. There was also a 48 percent increase among middle school students.

“This youth use continues to grow,” Gottlieb said. “Even if we’re successful at implementing our regulatory steps to address the access and appeal of these products to kids, those actions will take time to have their full effect. Meanwhile, the appeal of these products to children, and the resulting increase in youth use, shows no sign of abating.””

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