Millions of U.S. Students Still Vape, Despite Yearly Declines

Oct. 7, 2022 — More than 2.5 million middle school and high school students in the U.S. use e-cigarettes, according to a new study from the CDC and FDA.

The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted between January and May, showed that 14% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students used nicotine devices at least once during the past 30 days. A year ago, the survey showed that 11.3% of high school students and 2.8% of middle school students reported vaping in the past month.

The numbers remain below 2019 data, which showed that more than 25% of high school students vaped. Even still, anti-tobacco and anti-vaping groups have urged federal regulators to eliminate flavored vaping products that are popular among teens. 

In this year’s survey, 85% of teens who vaped said they used flavored e-cigarettes. The most used flavors were fruit (69%); candy, desserts, or sweets (38%); mint (29%); and menthol (27%).

“It is unacceptable that over 2.5 million kids still use e-cigarettes when there is a clear solution to the problem — eliminate all flavored e-cigarettes,” Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told USA Today.

The FDA has banned flavored vaping products derived from tobacco. However, users have increasingly turned to synthetic nicotine products, which are often disposable and sold in a variety of flavors, the newspaper reported.

In 2022, teens reported several different favorite brands, in contrast to 2019, when JUUL was the most recognized brand. Among those who currently vape, 14.5% said their usual brand was Puff Bar, followed by 12.5% for Vuse, 5.5% for Hyde, and 4% for SMOK. In addition, nearly 22% said their usual brand wasn’t among the 13 listed in the survey.

About 28% of youth reported using e-cigarettes daily, and 42% reported using them on 20 or more days during the past 30 days.

In addition, about 55% of teen vapers said they use disposable e-cigarettes. About 25% use prefilled or refillable pods, and 7% use tanks or mod systems. Another 23% said they didn’t know what type of device they used.

“This study shows that our nation’s youth continue to be enticed and hooked by an expanding variety of e-cigarette brands delivering flavored nicotine,” Deirdre Lawrence Kittner, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a statement.

“Our work is far from over,” she said. “It’s critical that we work together to prevent youth from starting to use any tobacco product — including e-cigarettes — and help all youth who do use them, to quit.”