Despite health concerns, middle and high school kids are still using flavored e-cigarettes

By: - September 30, 2021 4:37 pm

E-cigarettes. Credit: Wikipedia.

An estimated 2 million-plus kids from middle school to high school have reported using e-cigarettes in 2021– mostly flavored e-cigarettes and often the popular Puff Bar brand, according to a federal study released Thursday.

Most of the students in the study — 1.72 million — were high schoolers. Middle school students were at 320,000, according to the analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“This study shows that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, e-cigarette use among youth
remains a serious public health concern,” Karen Hacker, director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a CDC press release.

“It’s critical we continue working together to protect young people from the risks associated with tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes.”

The new study comes at a time when Florida is increasing the legal age from 18 to 21 for purchasing and possessing tobacco products and nicotine products. That would include vaping and e-cigarettes. The change occurs on Oct. 1, according to the the law.

The press release noted that, “Use of tobacco products by youths in any form, including e-cigarettes is unsafe. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain,”

The data comes from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which has been chronicling efforts for years to keep kids away from tobacco use.

The surveys use a national sample of students in public and private schools from 6th to 12th grades in the United States, and student participation is anonymous.

The responses and research methods lead to the estimates, such as the more than 2 million kids in the 2021 survey. (More than 25 million middle and high school students attend public schools in the United States, according to federal education data, and that doesn’t include private school attendance.)

When it came to e-cigarette users, kids commonly used disposables that are prefilled with e-liquid, and are designed to discard the e-cigarette after a single use, according to the study.

As to the brands used by high schoolers, “26.1% reported that their usual brand was Puff Bar, followed by Vuse (10.8%), SMOK (9.6%), JUUL (5.7%), and Suorin (2.3%). Among middle school current users, 30.3% reported that their usual brand was Puff Bar, and 12.5% reported JUUL. Notably, 15.6% of high school users and 19.3% of middle school users reported not knowing the e-cigarette brand they usually used.”

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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