Changes in the Prevalence of Smokers and Vapers Among American Youth

Knowledge•Action•Change (2020)

- Burning Issues: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2020

Cigarette smoking has been falling in the US for many years including among young people. When vaping products began to appear on the market, it was inevitable that some young people would want to experiment. This led to claims from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) and others that vaping was a gateway to smoking as the industry tried to compensate for falling numbers of younger smokers by promoting new products. Yet as the graph shows, cigarette smoking among young people has continued to fall, even while experimentation with vaping devices has been increasing. The goalposts shifted; the claim now from the same bodies is of a vaping “epidemic” among young people which would lead to a future generation of nicotine “addicts”. JUUL certainly attracted a lot of interest from some young people when it launched during 2018-19, while the company itself faced accusations of marketing the device to young adults and selling flavours that appeared to be targeting that same younger audience.

The public, the media and legislators continue to be misled over the prevalence of vaping among young people by the simple trick of conflating ‘ever use’, which could be just once or very infrequent, with ‘use’. However, a study by Allison Glasser and colleagues from New York University (NYU) College of Global Public Health looked at the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey of 20,000 middle and high school students and concluded that:

» Over 80 per cent of youth do not use any tobacco product.

» Over 86 per cent don’t vape.

» Most youth who do vape are current or former smokers and many are also vaping THC.

» While youth vaping has increased, this was driven by infrequent use.

» Only very few students vaped who had never smoked.

See also p.81 of the report: Burning Issues: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2020

Changes in the Prevalence of Smokers and Vapers Among American Youth

Changes in the Prevalence of Smokers and Vapers Among American Youth

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