Has Teen Vaping Epidemic Erased Decades of Progress Made Curtailing Youth Tobacco Use?
The number of U.S. children and teens using tobacco has increased for the first time since 2011, a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows. According to a report in The Daily Mail, the practice of vaping or use of e-cigarettes among youth in America has been called an “epidemic.” Now, the CDC has found that the vaping epidemic has driven the rate of tobacco use among minors up to 4.9 million from 3.6 million just the previous year. As of 2018, the CDC declares, the progress that has been made against underage tobacco use has been erased.
Shocking Reversal in Declines
The agency says this devastating reversal has been single-handedly caused by the 1.5 million teens and children who have begun using e-cigarettes such as Juul. The CDC says with well over 25 percent of American high school students using tobacco products and with 20 percent vaping, e-cigarettes are largely to blame for this sudden increase in tobacco use. The trend in teen smoking has been a downward one since 1975, until now.
The decline in smoking has led to public health victories such as reductions in heart disease and cancer. Last year, smoking reached an all-time low among American adults. But the e-cigarette is threatening all of those gains, particularly among the youth. E-cigarettes were casually introduced as an aid to stop smoking. Then, e-cig companies started to spend millions of dollars marketing these trendy devices to young people.
The sleek Juul looked like a USB driver and was wildly popular among children and teens. The marketing and advertising campaigns promoted e-cigarettes as “cool” by getting the endorsement of celebrities. The companies also started to sell vaping liquids in flavors that would appeal to children and teens from watermelon and cheery to cotton candy and bubble gum.
Now, more than 25 percent of high school students say they use at least one tobacco product. Many of those who smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes, also vape. The FDA put tremendous pressure on Juul causing the company to say it would stop targeting teens with its marketing campaigns.
The Importance of Spreading Awareness
But the damage has been done, as this most recent CDC study shows. E-cigarettes have done nothing but repackage the old poison in a new form. The industry has touted misleading information and embarked on multi-million dollar marketing campaigns to lure young people.
As product defect lawyers who represent those who have been injured by defective products, we hope that advocates and nonprofits continue to fight the good fight and spread awareness especially among young people about the dangers of vaping and tobacco use. Study after study has shown that vaping has serious health risks including lung damage. We simply cannot afford to lose the health gains made over several decades to companies that put profits over the safety and well-being of our youth.