High school kids are vaping less, FDA and CDC say

Elf Bar disposable flavored e-cigarette products are displayed in a convenience store in El Segundo, California, on June 23, 2022.

Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images

E-cigarette usage among U.S. high school students has fallen as the government pursues aggressive action against companies selling illegal vape products that appeal to young people, federal health regulators said Thursday.

The findings, a part of the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey, showed that between 2022 and 2023, e-cigarette use among high school students declined to 10% from 14.1%, a drop representing about 580,000 fewer high schoolers.

The decline comes as overall tobacco smoking among this group hits an all-time low, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current use of any tobacco product by high school students declined an estimated 540,000 students to 1.97 million in 2023, from 2.51 million in 2022.

“It’s encouraging to see this substantial decline in e-cigarette use among high schoolers within the past year, which is a win for public health,” Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a release.

E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among both high school and middle school students for a decade. For middle schoolers, grades 6 to 8, there were no significant changes in e-cigarette use from 2022 to 2023. Still, for middle schoolers, there was an increase in current overall tobacco product use to 6.6% from 4.5%.

Curbing e-cigarette usage among the country’s youth has been a top priority for U.S. health regulators. In recent months, the issue has become more cumbersome as newer vaping devices flood the market from overseas and circumvent existing tobacco regulation. The biggest culprit, Chinese brand Elf Bar, can still be found on shelves despite being banned by the FDA.

Among students currently using e-cigarettes, Elf Bar was the most commonly reported brand at 56.7%, followed by Esco Bars, Vuse, JUUL and Mr. Fog, the report found.

The report reiterated that youth use of tobacco products remains unsafe.

King said the agency has more work to do to crackdown as “bad actors place profit over the health of our nation’s youth.”

“The FDA remains concerned about youth tobacco product use, and we cannot and will not let our guard down on this issue,” King said. “The agency has an array of enforcement tools at our disposal, and we’re committed to using them as appropriate.”

Over the past year, the FDA said it has issued more than hundreds of warning letters to manufacturers, distributors and retailers of unauthorized e-cigarettes, including several distributors of Elf Bar.

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