We are always encouraged when we read positive news within the addiction realm (especially considering all of the tragic stories that have emerged since the onset of COVID-19). And this past week, there were some stats released that we can truly get excited about. After months of disheartening stories concerning vaping abuse and young people, it does look like the trend is declining among U.S. teenagers.
NBC News was one of the major outlets to report on the story. In the article, they shared results from a survey which showed that vaping usage among high schoolers dropped by 8 percent over the past year. Middle schoolers saw a significant decrease as well, declining by 6 percent since 2019. In raw numbers, that equates to 5.4 million young vapers in 2019 versus 3.6 million in 2020.
Now truth be told, it could certainly be possible that the coronavirus has had an impact on this. The fact that many teens and middle schoolers are homebound means that they could have less access to vaping tools. There may also be less peer pressure, since many are not physically attending classes anymore. The hope is, that these numbers do not spike back up after the quarantines cease.
The survey itself was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and involved over 20,000 young people across the U.S. Questions focused on vaping, but also inquired about cigarette use; which itself saw a notable decline over the past 12 months.
COVID-19 was listed as a possible contributor to the decline, as were a myriad of outside factors. Another one that was acknowledged was the anti-vaping advertising campaign that was launched in 2019. This one was focused strictly on the teenage sect and, as CDC rep Brian King told NBC, appeared to be effective.
“It’s possible that some of the media heightened awareness could have influenced decline in use,” King told the site. “And from what we’ve seen over the past decade, this does look like a very substantial decrease in a single year and it’s very encouraging.”
Other factors listed for decrease included price hikes for vaping materials and sales restrictions that limited accessibility to younger people. Of course, the 2020 vaping number still stands at over 3 million; which continues to be concerning. King concluded his statement with a call to action. Obviously new regulations are helping, which he believes lawmakers should open the door to more restrictions (such as making the products less appealing to teens).
“This is good news,” he concluded. “But as long as any flavored e-cigarettes are left on the market, kids will get their hands on them and we will not solve this crisis.”