The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming nicotine vaping devices like Juul for single-handedly driving a spike in tobacco use among teens, threatening to erase years of progress curbing youth use.
Food and Drug Administration and the surgeon general, have warned that the trend could reverse two decades of driving down teen smoking rates.
“The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. “It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction.”
Among other tobacco products, including cigarettes and cigars, the CDC did not find any significant change. That means e-cigarettes were the sole driver of the increase in overall tobacco use, the agency said. E-cigarettes surpassed cigarettes to become the most commonly used form of tobacco among middle school and high school students in 2014.
Cigarette smoking among high school students ticked up to 8.1 percent from 7.6 percent. It’s not a statistically significant rise, but it still has some concerned.
“These survey results are deeply troubling,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement. “They add to mounting concerns that the rise in youth use of e-cigarettes, especially Juul, is vastly expanding the number of kids addicted to nicotine, could be leading kids to and not away from cigarettes, and directly threatens the decades-long progress our nation has made in reducing youth smoking and other tobacco use.”
Surgeon General Jerome Adams has declared youth e-cigarette use an epidemic. The FDA is trying to limit illegal sales to minors. The agency is drafting new rules that would limit flavored nicotine pods to age-restricted stores like vape shops. The agency plans to publish the proposed regulation within the next month, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC last week.
Gottlieb said Monday that the FDA is also exploring possible civil and criminal enforcement tools “to target potentially violative sales and marketing practices by manufacturers as well as retailers.”
“These trends require forceful and sometimes unprecedented action among regulators, public health officials, manufacturers, retailers and others to address this troubling problem,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
Juul spokeswoman Victoria Davis said the company is “committed to fighting underage use of vaping products, including Juul products.”