MedPage Today reports, “Each day between 2017 and 2019, nearly 2,300 adolescents and young adults became new daily tobacco users – a figure that mirrors statistics from 1989 to 1993.” This is according to results from a longitudinal study published in Pediatrics.
The study found that “the total number of daily vape (or e-cigarette) users under 21 years of age rose to more than 1 million by 2019,” and “of those, 56.3% used Juul products in particular.”
“The large increase in daily use among U.S. adolescents could presage future health consequences and needs urgent additional action from the [FDA],” the authors wrote.
“Our data suggest that there may be a new generation of daily tobacco users who did not become dependent on combustible tobacco,” they said. “Hopefully, they may never switch to cigarette smoking, thus avoiding many of the health consequences, although e-cigarettes themselves are not harmless.”
Juul Labs — the company behind a sleek e-cigarette device with kid-friendly flavors — has faced over 2,300 lawsuits for its role in the youth vaping epidemic. While Juul insisted that its products were designed for older smokers, Pierce and coauthors found that rates of e-cigarette use decreased among older individuals.
Another study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, linked e-cigarette use to $2,024 in additional health care costs annually per individual, adding up to a nationwide cost of about $15 billion per year.
This study included data on the use of e-cigarettes by adults ages 18 and older for three years beginning in 2015.
Principal investigator Wendy Max, PhD, director of the Institute for Health & Aging, noted that from 2013 to 2018, e-cigarette use among high school students soared from 4.5% to 20.8%.
“We weren’t able to look at e-cigarette use among youth under 18 in this study,” Max said. “However, if more young people continue to take up vaping and keep on using this product when they become adults, the negative impacts on health care costs are likely to increase over time.”
The authors called for continuing efforts to control tobacco use among youth in order to reduce illness and health care costs associated with e-cigarette use.
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