In the past 30 days, one in four U.S. high school and one in ten high school students have tried e-cigarettes, according to the 2019 U.S. National Teen Tobacco Survey released Tuesday. The findings come as states and federal governments are calling for stricter regulations to stop the growing number of young people using e-cigarettes. However, current efforts may have failed to make it possible to continue to allow menthol and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes to be readily available.
Another study published Tuesday in the same journal found that Juul mint e-cigarettes were the most popular flavor among users in grades 8 through 12.
Figures published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that about 4.1 million high school students in the United States now use e-cigarettes, up 500,000 from the previous year. That’s a huge leap from five years ago, when only 4.5 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes. Since 2014, e-cigarettes have overtaken traditional cigarettes to become the most popular tobacco product in the United States for high school students. Students also smoke more often. More than two-thirds of e-cigarette users said they had used e-cigarettes in at least 20 days in the past 30 days. Last year the figure was close to a quarter. However, since the survey changes reflect changing brands in the market, it is more difficult to compare this year’s figures with those from previous years, the study authors note. This is the first year that an electronic survey is conducted, rather than a traditional one, so the results are tricky compared to other years.
The popularity of mint e-cigarettes could affect the way federal governments regulate flavored e-cigarettes. Previous efforts to curb the use of e-cigarettes by young people have been aimed at banning sweet e-cigarettes, while allowing e-cigarettes such as mint and menthol to remain on the shelves. These flavors, as well as tobacco flavours, are thought to be more attractive to older users.
The 2019 U.S. National Teen Tobacco Survey includes 19,000 students and is conducted annually by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess tobacco product use nationwide and to assess the effectiveness of prevention programs. After last year’s investigation, the FDA said it would take steps to prevent suppliers from selling sweet e-cigarettes unless they shut out minors. But these restrictions do not apply to products of tobacco, mint and menthol. At the time, then-FDA Director Scott Gottlieb said he was still concerned about menthol e-cigarettes, writing, “If there is evidence that children’s use of mint or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes has not decreased, I will review this aspect of the current compliance policy.” “
The University of Southern California’s e-cigarette-flavored study included 14,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders who used Juul products. High school students make mint their preferred flavor, while high school students rank it after mango. According to the survey, one in ten junior high school students will use e-cigarettes.
U.S. President Donald Trump called on the FDA in September to ban all non-traditional tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes on the market. “It’s not just a whole issue, it’s about respect for children,” he told reporters at the White House. In early September, Michigan became the first State in the United States to ban e-cigarettes.
The U.S. e-cigarette industry is currently going through a tough time. Juul, the industry giant, stopped advertising in September and its chief executive announced his resignation. Last month, a former executive accused the company of selling contaminated e-cigarettes. Public scrutiny of e-cigarettes is on the rise as the FDA and the CDC continue to investigate a series of mysterious lung injuries linked to e-cigarettes that have killed 37 people.