Study reveals teen vaping rates decline-But we still have work to do…
Teen vaping rates are falling. For years now, the government has used a national survey of around 20,000-22,000 middle and high school students from different sections of the country, nationalities, and classes, to determine trends and rates of tobacco use. They call it the National Youth Tobacco Survey or NYTS. This has been how we have determined whether students are using less tobacco products, different tobacco products, and if anti-tobacco initiatives are working. In the recent 2020 survey, analysis showed an exciting tick in the numbers that overall tobacco use is going down, and that youth e-cigarette and vape use is on the decline.
First decline in vaping use in three years
When e-cigarettes came into popularity, between 2001 and 2016, the NYTS saw a huge decline in the numbers of students smoking cigarettes, but they saw an almost equal increase in the number of students using e-cigarettes, making the total tobacco product use change nearly negligible. However, for the first time in three years, we have seen a decrease in vape and e-cigarette use amongst teens and youth. The number dropped from 5.4 million students in 2019, to 3.6 million in 2020, of students who have used one or more vape product in the last 30 days.
WHAT IS CAUSING THE DECLINE? – MY THOUGHTS
When I first heard this news, I thought, “Well, there are two obvious things that I could see contributing to the decline, and they’re related to the pandemic. It would seem to make sense that:
1) because the coronavirus is a respiratory disease, and extremely contagious, that students wouldn’t want to inhale chemicals into their lungs, and continue the, pretty gross, trend of sharing vapes.
2) since no one is in school, students have lost one of their main hiding places for vaping. However, the survey was actually conducted before the closing of schools. So, we will definitely have to watch next year and see if the coronavirus affects this trend.
Experts do have a couple of ideas as to what has led to this encouraging decrease in youth e-cigarette use. One theory is the growing trend we’re seeing in the medical community of vaping-related illnesses. Speaking as a Gen-Xer, I want to take a moment to admire the brilliance I see in the Gen-Z community. As much as different generations love to bash on one another, one can confidently say, Generation Z are definitely savvy. They hear the news; they know what’s going on in the world; and it could be possible that their generation is smart enough to see the negative impacts of vaping, and actually stop it as a trend. If this is a contributing factor in the decrease of vape product use, then I say, “Kudos to them”.
Kudos to YOU and your efforts!
Additionally, the decrease in vape use could likely be due to our collective, tireless efforts to teach young people about the dangers of taking toxic chemicals into their lungs. Those of you working prevention have worked to educate our youth, ban flavored vape products, change how the vape companies are allowed to market their products, make it harder to illegally sell vape products to young people, and raise the age in which young people are allowed to purchase these products.
Experts believe that all of these efforts contribute to the trend of young people using fewer e-cigarettes. And to that, I say, “KUDOS TO YOU ALL in these prevention efforts”! The collective efforts of adults who care for youth, educators, administrators, counselors, the FDA, the CDC, Truth Initiative, American Lung Association, Still Blowing Smoke, Elks Drug Awareness Program and organizations like YOURS are what is making the difference. BRAVO!
Our work is far from over!
“Although the decline in e-cigarette use among our Nation’s youth is a notable public health achievement, our work is far from over,” said Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a press release. And it’s true, there are still far too many teens knowingly, or unknowingly damaging their bodies with vapes. We have done a service for our young people, and while there is still a long way to go, it is a positive trend to see our youth using less e-cigarettes; one we hope will continue as our young people continue to grow, to get more intelligent, and to continue making positive choices and a brighter future for all of us.