Monday, October 18, 2021

Huge drop in US teen vaping seen with COVID school closures

WASHINGTON – This year many American students were forced to learn from home during the pandemic, according to a government report released Thursday.

US health officials urged caution in interpreting the numbers, which were first collected using online questionnaires. But outside experts said the big reduction in electronic cigarette use is likely to be real and that young people are often socially raped.

“They found a dramatic drop from last year and it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t represent a real reduction in use among high school and middle school students,” said Dr. Nancy Rigotti of Harvard University.

In the national survey, less than 11% of high school students and less than 3% of middle school students said they had been a recent user of e-cigarettes and other vaping products, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

That’s about 40% less than last year, when about 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students said they had recently vaped.

If this year’s numbers continue, it will be the second consecutive major drop for high school students in 2019 from a peak of 28%.

Even before the pandemic, many of the new restrictions were reducing the use of e-cigarettes. In late 2019, a new federal law raised the purchase age for all tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. Soon after, the FDA banned nearly all flavors from the small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes that first sparked the teen vaping craze.

In addition, some children may have been frightened by outbreaks of vaping-related diseases and deaths; Most were tied to a filler on the black market that contained THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes users feel high.

For months, tobacco experts have speculated about the potential impact of school closures on vaping, as most teens rape their friends and obtain e-cigarettes from their peers.

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