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With Students at Home, Teen Vaping Plunges

The question is whether rates will climb as schools reopen
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 30, 2021 4:35 PM CDT
Vaping Plunged As Students Stayed Home, Survey Finds
A woman holds a Puff Bar flavored disposable vape device last year.   (AP Photo/Marshall Ritzel)

(Newser) – Teen vaping plummeted in the US this year as many students were forced to learn from home during the pandemic, according to a government report released Thursday. Health officials urged caution in interpreting the numbers, which were collected through an online questionnaire for the first time, the AP reports. But outside experts said the big drop is likely real and makes sense given that young people often vape socially. "They found a dramatic drop from last year, and it's hard to imagine that doesn't represent a real decrease in use among high school and middle school students," said Dr. Nancy Rigotti of Harvard University, who was not involved in the research.

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In the national survey, 11% of high school students and fewer than 3% of middle school students said they were recent users of e-cigarettes and other vaping products, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. That's a roughly 40% drop from last year, when nearly 20% of high school students and 5% of middle schoolers said they'd recently vaped. If this year's numbers hold up, it would be the second big drop in a row, from a peak of 28% for high schoolers in 2019. Overall, government officials estimate about 2 million US teens and adolescents are vaping,

Even before the pandemic, new restrictions were curtailing underage use of e-cigarettes. In late 2019, a new federal law raised the purchase age for all tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. Shortly afterward, the FDA banned nearly all flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes, which first sparked the teen vaping craze. Also, some users may have been scared off by an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Rigotti said the decline will have to be confirmed by other surveys due out later this year. It's hard to predict whether vaping could rebound now that most schools have returned to in-person classes. "I'm sure schools are working hard to ensure that doesn't happen," she said.

(Read more vaping stories.)

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