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E-cigarettes are hooking a new generation on nicotine – putting millions of kids at risk and threatening decades of progress in reducing youth tobacco use. It’s a nationwide crisis of youth addiction, fueled by thousands of kid-friendly flavors and massive doses of nicotine.

According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), over 2 million U.S. kids reported using e-cigarettes in the first half of 2021, even as many schools remained closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the percentage of youth using e-cigarettes is lower than in previous years, it follows unprecedented increases in youth e-cigarette use in recent years. From 2017 to 2019, e-cigarette use among high school students more than doubled to 27.5%, leading the U.S. Surgeon General and other public health authorities to declare the problem an “epidemic.”

To end this epidemic, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids launched Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes. This grassroots initiative is fighting to take flavored products off the market, stand up to the tobacco industry's predatory marketing, and spare a generation from the grip of nicotine addiction. Learn more and join the fight

Still A Serious Public Health Problem

The latest data show the scope and cause of the problem:

  • Kids aren’t just experimenting with e-cigarettes. Many are using these products most days or every day, a sure sign they’re becoming addicted. In 2021, 43.6% of high school e-cigarette users vaped on at least 20 days a month, and 27.6% reported vaping every single day.
  • Flavored products are driving this epidemic. In fact, 85% of youth e-cigarette users use flavored products, with fruit, candy/desserts/other sweets, mint and menthol reported as the most popular flavors.
  • Kids have shifted dramatically to disposable and menthol e-cigarettes, two categories of products that were left on the market under current federal restrictions. These shifts show that the only way to end this crisis is to eliminate all flavored e-cigarettes.

Thousands of Flavored Products Still on the Market

To address this problem, the Trump Administration announced in September 2019 that it planned to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes. However, the final policy the Administration implemented in February 2020 – and that is still in place today – left thousands of flavored e-cigarette products on the market in over 100,000 locations across the country, including convenience stores, gas stations and vape shops.

This policy prohibited most flavors in one type of e-cigarette – cartridge- or pod-based products like Juul. But it contained gaping loopholes that allowed e-cigarette makers to continue luring and addicting kids with other flavored products. Flavored e-cigarettes that remain widely available include:

  • Disposable e-cigarettes, which are sold in kid-friendly flavors, colorfully packaged, cheap, easy to use and hide, and deliver huge doses of nicotine (as much or more than a whole pack of cigarettes).
  • Nicotine e-liquids sold in over 15,000 flavors.
  • Refillable devices like Smok and Suorin, which are popular among high school students.
  • Menthol varieties of Juul and other pod-based e-cigarettes.

To protect kids, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health advocates are urging policy makers at all levels to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes.

The FDA has the authority to prohibit flavored tobacco products and should do so without delay. Until the FDA acts, states and cities should continue their growing efforts to do so. To date, five states – California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – and hundreds of cities have taken action.

Health Risks to Kids

E-cigarettes pose serious risks to the health of young people:

  • The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that youth use of nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and can harm adolescent brain development, particularly the parts of the brain responsible for attention, memory and learning. The Surgeon General also found that using nicotine in adolescence can increase risk of future addiction to other drugs.
  • Juul and other e-cigarettes deliver massive doses of nicotine, putting youth users at greater risk of addiction. Each Juul pod (cartridge of nicotine) contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.
  • Studies have found that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become smokers, and many are low-risk youth who would not have otherwise smoked cigarettes.

Last updated Nov. 22, 2021