No to Cigarette.jpg by ProToria is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The myth of an ongoing “youth vaping and smoking epidemic” continues to be undermined by official sources. This month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the numbers from 2021’s annual National Youth Tobacco Survey, which has shown that teen smoking has nearly gone extinct in the United States.  

The CDC reports that middle- and high-school 30-day smoking rates plummeted to an all-time low of 1.5% of teens last year. This is more than half of the 3.3% recorded in 2020. Put more simply, only 1 in 250 young people are daily smokers, showing that youth smoking has all but disappeared in the United States, nearly ending the decades-long war against tobacco companies preying on the nation’s next generations.  

Additionally, school-age electronic cigarette use has fallen steeply over the last two years. High-school 30-day use declined from 27.5 percent to only 11.3 percent from 2019, while all youth tobacco usage dropped from 20 percent to 9.3 percent. Overall, steady progress has been made in efforts to end youth tobacco use, and if trends continue, we may soon see the nation’s first smoke-free generation. 

It should be noted that the youth vaping rate is almost certainly even lower than this data suggests. 30-day-use studies are flawed in that they include individuals who made use of traditional or electronic cigarettes as little as once in a monthly period. A report from last year suggests that only 3.1 percent of high-school age 0.3% of middle-school age student made use of electronic cigarettes, casting further doubt on the concept of any “youth vaping epidemic.” 

This data is further reinforced by findings made by the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) which published that teen tobacco use is the lowest ever recorded. From 2020 to 2021, says NYTS, school-age smoking declined by 40% – the greatest decrease in history. 

The report also included important data regarding the reasons why young people start and continue to use electronic and traditional cigarettes. Their data vindicated ATR’s position that flavored nicotine products cause increased rates of youth nicotine dependency. Their survey found that only 13 percent of user cite flavored products as their reason for using vapes – barely breaking the top seven. The more prominent reasons reported were anxiety (43.4%), nicotine buzzes (42.8%), a friend using them (28.3%), and ability to do tricks (20%). Evidence clearly shows that flavored tobacco and nicotine products are not a strong motivator for youth e-cigarette use.