Elf Bar disposable flavored e-cigarette products are on display at a convenience store in El Segundo, California on June 23, 2022.
Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images
E-cigarette use among U.S. high school students has declined as the government continues aggressive action against companies selling illegal vaping products that appeal to young people, federal health regulators announced Thursday.
The results, part of the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey, showed that between 2022 and 2023, e-cigarette use among high school students decreased from 14.1% to 10%. a drop representing approximately 580,000 fewer high school students.
The decline comes as overall smoking among this group reaches an all-time high, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current use of any tobacco product by high school students has decreased by approximately 540,000 students to 1.97 million in 2023, from 2.51 million in 2022.
“It is encouraging to see this substantial decline in e-cigarette use among high school students over the past year, which is a victory for public health,” said Brian King, director of the Center for Tobacco Products of the FDA, in a press release.
The electronic cigarette has been the most consumed tobacco product for a decade, both by high school and college students. For middle school students in grades 6-8, there has been no significant change in e-cigarette use between 2022 and 2023. Nonetheless, for middle school students, there has been an increase in overall current use of tobacco products, increasing from 4.5% to 6.6%.
Reducing e-cigarette use among the nation’s youth is a top priority for U.S. health regulators. In recent months, the problem has become more complex as new vaping devices flood the market from overseas and circumvent existing tobacco regulations. The biggest culprit, Chinese brand Elf Bar, is still on shelves despite being banned by the FDA.
Among students currently using e-cigarettes, Elf Bar was the most frequently cited brand at 56.7 percent, followed by Esco Bars, Vuse, JUUL and Mr. Fog, according to the report.
The report reiterates that the use of tobacco products by young people remains dangerous.
King said the agency still has work to do to crack down because “bad actors are putting profit ahead of the health of our nation’s youth.”
“The FDA remains concerned about youth use of tobacco products, and we cannot and will not let our guard down on this issue,” King said. “The agency has a range of law enforcement tools and we are committed to using them appropriately.”
Over the past year, the FDA said it has sent more than hundreds of warning letters to manufacturers, distributors and retailers of unauthorized e-cigarettes, including several Elf Bar distributors.
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