Alec Stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

Since their inception, e-cigarettes have made the public health sector uneasy. Initial reports suggested that e-cigarettes could be an opportunity for long-time adult smokers to step down their usage, acting as a bridge to smoking cessation.

However, recent reports indicate that youth vaping and e-cigarette use has risen sharply in the past two years—creating an entirely new generation of smokers. U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, issued a statement declaring youth vaping a national epidemic.

“E-cigarette use among youth has skyrocketed in the past year at a rate of epidemic proportions,” Adams said. “According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, the percentage of high school-age children reporting past 30-day use of e-cigarettes rose by more than 75% between 2017 and 2018. Use among middle school-age children also increased by nearly 50%.”

The surgeon general’s announcement also noted the ongoing issue with e-cigarette products being designed with flavors aimed to entice newer, younger smokers. To curb marketing tactics aimed at young adults, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued several warnings letters to leading e-cigarette manufacturers. With both the national epidemic declaration and FDA’s focus on youth vaping, young adult smoking has taken a center stage for two leading health agencies.