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New Study Shows Kid-Friendly Flavors Drove Big Increase in E-Cigarette Sales Since 2020 – To Protect Kids, FDA Must Eliminate All Flavored E-Cigarettes

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
June 22, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new study published today by the CDC shows that e-cigarette sales in the U.S. increased by 46.6% from January 2020 to December 2022, with the increase driven by flavored products popular with kids. These findings are extremely concerning as the evidence is clear that flavored products are behind the continuing crisis of youth e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction. The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2022 NYTS) shows that over 2.5 million kids still use e-cigarettes, and 85% of them use flavored products, including 27% who use menthol-flavored products. To end this crisis, the FDA must quickly finish its review of e-cigarette marketing applications and clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol-flavored products and products like Vuse and Juul that have the largest market share and are popular with kids.

Today’s study shows that sales of flavored disposable e-cigarettes surged after the FDA in February 2020 cracked down on sales of prefilled, cartridge-based products in flavors other than tobacco and menthol. However, disposable e-cigarettes are just part of the problem. Today’s study also shows that prefilled products still account for nearly half (48%) of e-cigarette sales, and neither of the two top-selling e-cigarette brands, Vuse and Juul, are considered disposable products. Vuse and Juul are two of the most popular e-cigarette brands among kids, according to the 2022 NYTS. It is also concerning that menthol-flavored products now dominate the prefilled cartridge market (like Vuse and Juul) and make up 62% of this market, as menthol is a flavor that appeals to kids.

Today’s study underscores that we will not end the youth e-cigarette crisis until the FDA clears the market of all flavored e-cigarettes. When the FDA takes action only against some flavored products, as it did in February 2020, sales – and kids – shift to the flavored products that are left. Tobacco giant Reynolds American has been waging a self-serving campaign urging the FDA to crack down only on flavored disposable e-cigarettes, which would benefit sales of the company’s best-selling Vuse Alto product. But the evidence is clear that eliminating just flavored disposable products is not enough. It would leave on the market menthol-flavored products like Vuse and Juul that are popular with kids, and once again kids would shift to the flavored products that are left.

The FDA has made important progress in recent months by rejecting applications for flavored e-cigarettes and stepping up its enforcement against the sale of illegal and unauthorized flavored products. It must finish the job by clearing the market of all flavored e-cigarettes, not just disposables, and especially brands like Vuse and Juul with significant market share.

Today’s study was conducted by the CDC Foundation, Truth Initiative and the CDC and was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.