American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products. The new 2017 survey data indicates that 3.6 million middle and high school students used tobacco in the last 30 days. Of the 3.6 million, 2.1 million used e-cigarettes. The number of young people surveyed who smoked e-cigarettes in 2017 is very close to the 2016 total when e-cigarette use came in just under 2.2 million:
"The almost flat figure on youth e-cigarette use revealed in this new CDC survey should be viewed with apprehension. The decline disclosed by the 2016 survey appears to have stalled last year. Our greatest fear is that this may be a warning sign of a reversal, and in the coming years we may see a disturbing rise in the number of middle and high school students who smoke e-cigarettes.
Other data highlighted in this survey points in that direction. E-cigarettes top the list of tobacco products used by young people in 2017. A little under 12 percent of high school students smoke them along with 3.3 percent of middle school students. E-cigarettes have been the most common tobacco product used by the nation's young people since 2014. Various studies trace the popularity of these products to their flavors. On the market currently, there are almost 500 brands of e-cigarettes. According to one study, these brands come in 15,586 distinct flavors.
The tobacco industry is well aware that flavored tobacco products appeal to youth and has taken advantage of this by marketing them in a wide range of fruit and candy flavors. Their strategy is working too well, unfortunately. That is why we believe the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to crackdown on sloppy enforcement of age restrictions on tobacco sales, and more importantly, remove these kid-appealing products from the market.
Vaping has become a scary trend among the youth in this country and the public is starting to take notice. Just this week, San Francisco residents voted to uphold a city law banning the sale of flavored tobacco products by a significant 68 to 32 percent margin.
We hope this action got the attention of the FDA and will spur the agency to take similar steps nationwide before our children repeat the tragic mistakes of prior generations and become lifelong tobacco addicts."
Explore further: Fewer U.S. kids use tobacco, but numbers still too high: officials