Skip to main content

Vaping is still on the rise in high schools

Vaping is still on the rise in high schools


Federal regulators could move to limit mint flavors after study shows its popularity

Share this story

Smoking, drinking and drug abuse decline among US teens, who prefer pot and vaping, study finds
Diedra Laird/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

One in four high schoolers and one in ten middle schoolers have tried vaping in the last 30 days, according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey released today. The survey results come as both states and the federal government have called for stricter regulations to stem the rising number of young people who use e-cigarettes. But current efforts may be falling short by continuing to allow mint and menthol flavors to be easily accessible. Another study, published today in the same journal, found that mint was the most popular flavor for Juul users in eighth through 12th grade. 

a gigantic leap

The numbers, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that there are now 4.1 million high schoolers using electronic cigarettes, about a half million more than the year before. And it’s a gigantic leap from five years ago, when just 4.5 percent of high school students reported vaping. Vaping became more popular than smoking cigarettes among students for the first time in 2014. There’s also been an uptick in how often the students are vaping. More than one in three of those who vape said that they’ve done so at least 20 days out of the past 30 days. That number was closer to one in four last year. The study authors note, however, that it’s more difficult to compare this year’s numbers to previous years because of changes to the questionnaire that reflect the changing brands on the market. And this was the first year that the survey was conducted electronically instead of using paper and pencil, which likewise makes the results tricky to compare to other years.

The popularity of mint could affect how federal authorities regulate e-cigarette flavors. Previous efforts to curb vaping among young people focused on banning sweeter flavors while allowing flavors like mint and menthol to stay on the shelves. Those flavors, along with tobacco, were thought to attract older users. 

The popularity of mint could affect how authorities regulate e-cigarette flavors

The National Youth Tobacco Survey included 19,000 students; it’s conducted each year by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration to get an estimate of tobacco product use nationwide and to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention programs. After last year’s survey, the FDA said it would move to stop vendors from selling sweet-flavored e-cigarette products unless they kept minors out of their stores. But those limitations didn’t apply to tobacco, mint, and menthol flavors. At the time, then-FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that he was still worried about mint, writing that “if evidence shows that kids’ use of mint or menthol e-cigarettes isn’t declining, I’ll revisit this aspect of the current compliance policy.”

The flavor study that was conducted by the University of Southern California included 14,000 eighth, 10th, and 12th graders who use Juul products, the most widely used e-cigarette brand. The high school students voted mint as their go-to flavor, while middle schoolers ranked it second after mango. One in ten middle schoolers vape, according to the tobacco survey. 

President Trump in September called on the FDA to ban all flavored cigarettes. “Not only is it a problem overall, but really specifically with respect for children,” he told reporters at the White House. Earlier that month, Michigan became the first state to ban them.

a tough time for the e-cigarette industry

The new numbers come at a tough time for the e-cigarette industry. Juul, a giant in the industry, halted advertising and replaced its CEO in September, and last month a former executive accused the company of shipping contaminated pods. Public scrutiny is also growing over vaping as the FDA and CDC continue to investigate a spate of mysterious lung injuries connected to vaping that have led to 37 deaths. It’s a serious concern, but it is separate from the rising numbers of young people using e-cigarette products. The vast majority of those reported injuries have been linked to people using substances containing THC, not nicotine.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 19 minutes ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

The Verge
Richard Lawler19 minutes ago
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.

David Pierce25 minutes ago
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”

Thomas Ricker7:29 AM UTC
Table breaks before Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire glass.

”It’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Apple at the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra (read The Verge review here). YouTuber TechRax put that claim to the test with a series of drop, scratch, and hammer tests. Takeaways: the titanium case will scratch with enough abuse, and that flat sapphire front crystal is tough — tougher than the table which cracks before the Ultra fails — but not indestructible.

Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.

Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.

External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.