Survey finds the most popular kind of vaping products should be out of kids’ reach

Nearly 90% of kids use the variety of e-cigarettes the Food and Drug Administration deemed illegal to sell in the U.S. in 2020.

Even though they are illegal, nearly 90% of kids who are using e-cigarettes are using the flavored kind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned in 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Youth Tobacco Survey found that while overall student tobacco use is dropping, the kind of tobacco delivery method the FDA has ostensibly classified as contraband — the flavored and disposable kind — has never been more popular. High schoolers’ use of disposable e-cigarettes has increased by 2,617% since 2019, according to yearly data comparisons.

Among those who use tobacco products, the survey of sixth- through 12th-graders shows that 60.7% are using disposable e-cigarettes. It’s the highest rate reported since the CDC started measuring the usage of disposable cigarettes, according to an analysis of the data.

Among tobacco delivery products, traditional cigarettes are the third most popular method among youth for getting that tobacco hit, behind cigars.

The product is hard to regulate and keep out of the country because of both the demand and poor diplomatic relations with China, where about 90% of these disposable, flavored tobacco products come from, according to National Public Radio reporting.

Fruit flavors are the most popular variety of these disposable e-cigarettes, followed by candy, desserts or other sweets like mint and menthol, the report found. The survey of 22,969 students found that the Elf Bar was the most popular, followed by the Esco Bars.

Neither of those brands have received the required marketing order from the FDA, which is the only way new tobacco markets can legally enter the U.S. market for sale. The legal ones that have FDA approval are all tobacco flavored and targeted at adults. Still, the fruit- and candy-flavored kind are sold in gas stations everywhere, NPR found.

The survey was done between March 9 and June 16 and was conducted in a representative sample. The school-based survey produced a confidence interval of 95%, FDA officials said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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