- A new series of studies reveals the staggering numbers of US teens and adolescents are vaping
- Food and Drug Administration research found 27.5% of high schoolers and 10.5% of middle schoolers now use e-cigarettes
- ‘Mint’ is the most popular flavor vaped by US teens in 2019, according to University of Southern California research
- Juul is the most popular brand among students of all ages
- Vaping illnesses have killed 39 people in the US, including at least one as young as 17
- Experts say sweet flavors entice young people to use the products, prompting talks in the Trump Administration of a ban on these flavored products
More than one in four US high school students and 10.5 percent of middle schoolers vape, with most preferring mint and sweet flavors – especially those sold by Juul, finds new research
More than one in four high school students in the US now vape, as do more than 10 percent of middle schoolers, new research reveals.
Vaping-linked illnesses have risen to a crisis in recent months, killing 39 people – including at least one as young as 17 – and sickening 1,900.
A series of pair of new studies from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the University of Southern California (USC) reveal that e-cigarette use is even more ubiquitous among American teens than previously thought.
As suspected, the majority of students are using flavored e-cigs, especially those sold by the trendy but controversy-laden Juul Labs, with mint ranking most popular among high schoolers and second most popular with middle schoolers.
Officials in the Trump Administrations told the Washington Street Journal that the White House will announce this week that it’s moving forward with legislation to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, but not mint and menthol.
And excluding these flavors from the ban may mean it fails to deter US teens from taking up vaping, the new studies suggest.
‘Our study calls into question whether regulations or sales suspensions of flavored e-cigarettes that exclude mint flavors would meaningfully reduce youth vaping,’ said Dr Adam Leventhal, director of USC’s Institute for Addiction Science.
He and his team investigated what flavors of Juul – which the FDA study found is used by 59.1 percent of high school vapers and and 54.1 percent of middle school users – prefer.
They found that high school students’ first choice is mint (44 percent) and second is mango (27 percent), while the same flavors ranked in the reverse order for middle school users in 2019.
In theory, the underage users shouldn’t even be able to get their hands on mango, given that Juul pulled it and other sweet pods from stores online shops over a year ago, in October 2018, promising to wait to sell them until they’d been FDA-reviewed.
The company has continued to sell mint pods.
And students have continued to vape it.
Echoing and reinforcing the USC study’s results, the FDA’s survey of 19,000 US students found that 72 percent of high school vapers that don’t also smoke use flavored e-cigarettes, with mint or menthol ranking among the most popular varieties.
The same was true for 59 percent of middle schoolers.
Juul has been under investigation by the FDA for using its sweet flavors and marketing to entice underage users.
Experts have widely agreed sweet flavors create a low threshold to uptake for teenagers and kids.
Cities and states like Michigan, New York and Washington have all put into place bans on flavored e-cigarettes, though many face legal challenges.
Massachusetts has enacted a wholesale ban on the sale of all e-cigarettes, a measure other states have stopped short of.
As the death toll climbed – it’s now reached at least 39 Americans with 1,9000 sick with a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping – President Trump promised to act swiftly to ban flavored e-cigs.
He then seemed to walk back that promise, via Twitter, but officials told the Wall Street Journal that legislation to ban the flavors will be announced this week.
If it mirrors statewide ban, the federal legislation would allow mint and menthol flavors to still be sold with the purported original intent of e-cigarettes to function as quit-aids for smokers.
But to effectively keep the products out of the hands of America’s teenagers and children, these laws may need to go further, experts suggest.
‘Regulations which reduce youth exposure to flavored e-cigarettes may aid in preventing young people who try e-cigarettes from becoming long-term e-cig users,’ said Dr Levanthal.
‘Regulations like these could also encourage the millions of US adolescents who already use e-cigarettes to quit vaping, especially if they can no longer access e-cigs in flavors they like, which according to our study, include both minty and fruity flavor.’