A study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students reported currently using e-cigarettes in 2021, with more than 8 in 10 of those youth using flavored e-cigarettes.
The report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, was based on data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), a cross-sectional, self-administered survey of U.S. middle (grades 6–8) and high (grades 9–12) school students. The study assessed current (used on one or more of the past 30 days) e-cigarette use; frequency of use; and use by device type, flavors, and usual brand.
This NYTS — administered Jan. 18–May 21, 2021 — was the first to be fully conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected using an online survey to allow eligible students to participate in the classroom, at home or in some other place to account for various school settings during this time. Prior to the pandemic, the survey was conducted in person, inside the school classroom. Because of the changes in the way the survey was conducted this year, results of the 2021 NYTS cannot be compared to findings from previous surveys.
Nonetheless, the 2021 NYTS provides crucial information about youth use of e-cigarettes. Notably, when many students were in remote learning environments that might have affected their access to tobacco products, an estimated 11.3 percent (1.72 million) of high school students and an estimated 2.8 percent (320,000) of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use.
E-cigarettes are highly addictive and are being targeted toward vulnerable young people. Our generation learned the hard way about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine. We need to demand better for our grandchildren.