In september, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released new data from the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). The results, published by Wang et al in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), showed 1.8 million fewer young people in the United States are currently using e-cigarettes compared to 2019.
After 2 years of increases in youth e-cigarette use, the overall significant decline reported in 2020 is encouraging; however, the FDA communicated in a statement that the Agency “remains very concerned about the 3.6 million U.S. youth who currently use e-cigarettes, and we acknowledge there is work that still needs to be done to curb youth use. Youth use of e-cigarettes remains a public health crisis that is affecting children, families, schools, and communities, and we will do everything possible to stop it—including new actions we are taking.”
The 2020 NYTS data also showed an uptick in the use of disposable e-cigarettes by youth. Specifically, in 2020, disposable e-cigarettes are being used by 26.5% of high school e-cigarette users (up from 2.4% in 2019) and 15.2% of middle school e-cigarette users (up from 3% in 2019). In addition, more than 8 out of 10 youth e-cigarette users report the use of flavored products, with fruit, mint, candy, and menthol among the most commonly used. This is the first year in which the NYTS distinguished between mint and menthol products; in previous years’ surveys, respondents were asked questions in which products were identified as “mint/menthol” and not further delineated.
The study authors concluded: “Comprehensive implementation of evidence-based strategies at the national, state, and local levels, in coordination with FDA regulation, can prevent and reduce youth tobacco product use. Strategies to address factors driving youth e-cigarette use are particularly critical. In addition to FDA’s enforcement policy that prohibits the sale of prefilled pod or cartridge-based e-cigarettes in any flavor other than tobacco or menthol, several states and communities have restricted all flavored e-cigarette sales, including menthol.”