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Nation's top doctor issues advisory on "epidemic" of youth e-cigarette use

Survey shows alarming spike in vaping: 1 in 5 12th grade students vaped nicotine in the last 30 days in 2018

On Dec. 18, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams issued a national advisory to parents, teachers, and health professionals regarding the skyrocketing increase of e-cigarette use among youth. 

Surgeon General advisories are used in cases where rapid and urgent action is needed. This is the first Surgeon General advisory on a tobacco issue and is only the fifth such advisory the office has issued in the last 20 years.

Just yesterday new data was released showing the number of high school seniors who reported using e-cigarettes in the last month nearly doubled, and earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among youth overall in just the last year.

The annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, conducted annually since 1975 by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, yesterday reported a stunning rise in use of nicotine in vaping devices since 2017. Between January 2017 and January 2018, the percentage of 12th graders who reported vaping nicotine (not flavoring or other substances) during the past 30 days nearly doubled, from 11% to nearly 21%. Among 10th graders, the increase was almost as great, from 8.2 % to 16.1%. These are by far the biggest one-year increases ever seen for any substance in the history of the MTF survey. 

The following is a statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“We commend the Surgeon General for taking action and drawing attention to the epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes. The rapid rise in the number of youth who use these products is a public health crisis that threatens to erode decades of progress made in reducing tobacco use and nicotine addiction. The advisory urgently calls on parents, teachers and health professionals to work together to curb youth use of these products; many of which come in kid-friendly flavors and contain significant levels of nicotine that can harm developing brains and prime kids for a lifetime of addiction.

“While a number of states and communities have begun to take action to address this epidemic across the country, community level action alone cannot solve this crisis. The most substantial way to begin reversing this epidemic of e-cigarette use among youth is for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exercise its full regulatory authority and conduct the legally required review of e-cigarettes and cigars, including prohibiting their use of flavoring, in order to be on the market. ACS CAN will continue to call for FDA to move as quickly as possible to regulate all tobacco products and reverse the unprecedented trend of youth use of e-cigarettes.”

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