Youth and E-cigarettes

On Sept. 12, 2018, the FDA declared youth electronic cigarette use (or vaping) an epidemic. The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida supports the FDA’s action to protect youth against nicotine addiction. Read our statement here.

E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. E-cigarettes have a battery, a heating element and a place to hold e-liquid. Most e-liquids contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive chemical.[1] As the e-cigarette industry continues to evolve, one device known as JUUL has become extremely popular among youth.[2] JUUL has become a prevalent topic on social media among young people and the trend has generated its own slang verb, “JUULing.”

According to JUUL’s own website, when asked about nicotine concentration, “One JUULpod is intended to replace 1 pack of cigarettes, with ~200 puffs.”[3] Its discrete size and design make it easy to disguise or hide at home, in public, and even at school.

The rise of e-cigarette use among youth is cause for concern.[4]

  • E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes in 2014 in Florida.
  • Data from the 2018 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), released by the Florida Department of Health, shows that e-cigarette use among Florida youth spiked dramatically in just one year. The current e-cigarette use rate among Florida high school students was 24.8% in 2018 – an astounding 58 percent increase compared to 2017.
  • Among youth (ages 11-17) in Florida, one in four had tried e-cigarettes in 2018.

Nicotine use among young people is a serious public health issue. Brain development continues until the early to mid-20s. Nicotine exposure during periods of significant brain development, such as adolescence, can disrupt the growth of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction.[1] While not every type of e-cigarette uses nicotine, most do – including the increasingly popular JUUL. Among youth and young adult JUUL users, 63% did not know that this product always contains nicotine, according to a Truth Initiative study published in April 2018.[5]

Parents, teachers, and others who influence youth can advise and inform them of the dangers of nicotine; discourage youth tobacco use in any form, including e-cigarettes; and set a positive example by being tobacco free themselves. Check out our guide, “How to Talk to Your Kids About Tobacco” at tobaccofreeflorida.com/tipsforparents.

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[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2016.

[2] PKing BA, Gammon DG, Marynak KL, Rogers T. Electronic Cigarette Sales in the United States, 2013-2017. JAMA. 2018;320(13):1379–1380. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.10488

[3] Public Health Law Center (2018, May). “JUUL & THE GUINEA PIG GENERATION.” Retrieved from http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/JUUL-and-the-Guinea-Pig-Generation-2018.pdf

[4] Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2018.

[5] Truth Initiative (2019, June 26). “63% Of Youth Are Unaware That JUUL e-Cigarettes Contain Nicotine.” Retrieved from truthinitiative.org/news/juul-e-cigarettes-gain-popularity-among-youth