E-cigarette sales on the rise in U.S.; Vaping among teens drops

E-cigarettes have been becoming more popular among adults in the U.S., according to a new report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released this week.

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The findings from the FTC said e-cigarette sales from nine leading manufacturers in the U.S. jumped by about $370 million between 2020 and 2021, with a total of around $2.67 billion.

But as sales are on the rise, government data shows vaping among teens is down.

Government data shows youth vaping dropped more than 60 percent last year compared to 2019. Around 5.3 million middle school and high school students reported vaping in 2019, with more than 2.1 million youth reporting vaping in 2023.

“We’re trying to do the right thing because we’re trying to show the FDA that we’re not part of the problem, we’re only part of the solution for adults,” said Allison Boughner, Vice President of American Vapor Manufacturers. “We don’t want kids using these products… Increasing the age to 21 helped with that a lot.”

Boughner argues the vaping industry’s focus is on helping adults quit traditional cigarettes, also known as combustible cigarettes, by transitioning to vaping.

The FTC report points to efforts by the vaping industry since 2021 aimed at helping keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people. That includes at least five companies requiring third-party age verification to join their mailing lists for customers.

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“I have a 17-year-old. I never want to see him touch a vape,” said Boughner. “I do believe that enforcing current laws, making sure that we are checking IDs, making sure that there’s a signature for delivery of these products, I mean that is the best that we can do.”

But even with fewer teens now using e-cigarettes, CDC data shows it is still the most commonly used tobacco product among middle school and high school students.

Like combustible cigarettes, most e-cigarettes do contain nicotine, which health experts say is especially harmful to young people.

“Nicotine can permanently change how their brains develop,” said Erika Sward with the American Lung Association. “It can make them more likely to have and develop ADHD and other cognitive problems.”

The CDC says e-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant adults, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

On its website, the agency writes “scientists still have a lot to learn about whether e-cigarettes are effective in helping adults quit smoking” and said that “additional research can help understand long-term health effects.”

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