Number of the Day

The End of the High School Vaping Boom, by the Numbers

Photo: Hazemmkamal/Getty Images

1.8 million: That’s the drop in the number of American teens currently using e-cigarettes, compared to 2019, according to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, down to about 3.6 million in total. In 2019, 27.5% of high schoolers and 10.5% middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes; in 2020, those numbers were down to roughly 20% of high schoolers and 5% of middle schoolers.

It seems we may have finally passed Peak Juul: the company that helped make vaping all the rage among American youth by targeting minors in its early ad campaigns announced earlier this month that it would be slashing its workforce by a third and is considering pulling out of 11 countries.

Increased regulatory enforcement such as the FDA taking action this year against unauthorized fruit and mint-flavored vape liquids, and increasing incidence of vaping-related respiratory illnesses may have contributed to the decline in the popularity of vaping. (There is an uptick, however, in teenagers’ use of disposable e-cigarettes, a category that was left out of the FDA’s guidelines.)

Could it also be that teens attending school via Zoom while locked down at home with their parents have fewer opportunities to sneak a cherry-flavored drag of nicotine vapor? Possibly, but the numbers above had nothing to do with the pandemic, as the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey was conducted between mid-January and mid-March this year.

It’s not all good news for respiratory health: Looks like cigarette smoking is making a comeback.

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