The CDC Says 2 Million Teens Have Kicked This Bad Habit

A new survey says e-cigarette use has declined by 40 percent among America's youth.

It's not often that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues good news, but the national public health institute just announced the findings of a survey showing that more than a million American teenagers have quit e-cigarette use in the last year. Given that COVID-19 is by definition a respiratory disease that largely targets the lungs, the findings represent a remarkable health achievement on a troubling front where health experts have been raising alarm since the vaping devices first exploded in popularity.

The 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, published by the CDC published on Sept. 9, is the latest in their annual reports on the use of tobacco-related products by high school and middle school-aged kids. According to the report, 19.6 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month, which is sharply down from 27.5 percent from 2019. As The New York Times noted, that is a 40 percent decline in usage year over year, which represents 1 million fewer users than the 4.1 million reported a year before.

The use of e-cigarettes decreased even more significantly among students in middle school. Roughly 550,000 middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes in the past year, which is down from 1.24 million reported in 2019. CDC director, Robert R. Redfield, called the current decline a "notable public health achievement," before noting with caution that "Youth e-cigarette use remains an epidemic."

Vape and cartridge in hand

Ever since 2011, when e-cigarettes became widely available, their use has exploded among American teenagers. In December 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General warned that teenaged use of vaping pens and e-cigarettes had reached "epidemic portions," and the public health risk was so great that the Trump administration instituted a ban on flavored vaping offerings earlier this year. The flavored e-liquids, such as Juul's "mint" and fruit versions, were popular among younger users.

So why the sharp decline? Well, the cessation trend correlates with concerns about COVID-19, the contagion that causes a severe and potentially fatal respiratory illness that has led to roughly 190,000 deaths in the country over the past six months or so. Since COVID-19 primarily attacks the lungs, it stands to reason that the inhalation of flavored nicotine—even in steam form—can compromise an individual's ability to fight off an infection.

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A study from the University of California, San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education published in August revealed that the use of e-cigarette and vaping could significantly increase the risk of falling more seriously ill if one contracts COVID-19. Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study evaluated 4,351 subjects who ranged in age from 13 to 24 years old. Researchers found that patients who smoked e-cigarettes were five times more likely to develop coronavirus than those who abstained.

As the country continues to battle this respiratory illness, let's all consider this latest development good news. And for more ways to protect yourself from COVID-19, make sure you're fully up-to-speed on the 98 COVID Symptoms You Need to Know About.

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