National Trends in E-Cigarette Use

National trends: E-cigarette sales at their highest; More than 3 million U.S. youth said they used e-cigarettes in 2020

 

As the world returns to the “new normal,” the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping still remain a public health threat. New research shows that national e-cigarette unit sales are among the highest ever recorded based on CDC Foundation data – a worrisome trend that schools should remain aware of as students return in the fall.


In its latest data brief, the CDC Foundation reports that from January 2017 to May 2021:

  • National e-cigarette unit sales are at record-high levels, based on current CDC Foundation data. Many believed e-cigarette use would drop due to the EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury) outbreak in April 2019, as well as school and store closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, research by the CDC Foundation discovered the opposite was true. National e-cigarette unit sales increased by 48.9 percent –22.0 million units – from February 23, 2020 to May 16, 2021, despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2020 enforcement policies banning menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes.


  • The use of disposable e-cigarette devices has skyrocketed. Because the FDA allowed disposable e-cigarette devices and menthol tobacco prefilled cartridges to remain on the market, their sales increased exponentially. Sales of disposable devices rose by 195.8% (from 2.8 million to 8.2 million). In addition, prefilled cartridge sales increased by 15.1% (from 12.0 million to 13.8 million).


  • Menthol-, tobacco-, mint- and other-flavored e-cigarettes are among the most popular products, according to national retails sales.

  • Tobacco-flavored e-cigarette sales increased by 11.7% (from 5.1 million to 5.7 million)

  • Mint-flavored e-cigarette sales increased by 26.2% (from 0.7 million to 0.8 million)

  • Menthol-flavored e-cigarette sales increased by 41.2% (from 6.4 million to 9.0 million)

  • All other-flavored e-cigarette sales increased by 142.3% (from 2.7 million to 6.5 million)

E-cigarette use among middle and high school students is still problematic.

An estimated 3.6 million U.S. youth said they used e-cigarettes in 2020, with more than 8 in 10 reporting use of flavored e-cigarettes. With the halt of the 2020 Monitoring the Future Survey – which gathers drug use and attitudes among middle and high school students – the impact of the pandemic on teen vaping is still being determined. However, a recent study among young adults ages 18 to 24 shows an increase in self-reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, substance use and suicidal thoughts among this population.


For advice on how schools can help students quit vaping, read this Zeptive article.



By Kristin Erekson Barton, MA, CHES

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References:

  1. CDC Foundation. (2021). Monitoring U.S. E-Cigarette Sales: National Trends. https://www.cdcfoundation.org/National-E-CigaretteSales-DataBrief-2021-May16?inline

  2. Panchal N, Kamal R, Cox C, & Garfield R. The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

  3. Volkow, N. (2020, December 15). As 2020 Closes, Many Questions Remain about Youth Substance Abuse Trends. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/12/2020-closes-many-questions-remain-about-youth-substance-use-trends