E-Cigarette Use Among High School Students Declines

FDA files civil money penalties to retailers selling unauthorized Elf Bar products
2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey chart
Image/Food and Drug Administration

E-cigarette use among high school students is declining, according to the recently released data from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS).

The survey, from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that among U.S. high school students, current overall tobacco product use declined from 16.5% in 2022 to 12.6% in 2023. The decline was primarily attributable to reduced e-cigarette use, which was down from 14.1% to 10% during the past year, the FDA said in a statement released Thursday.

However, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products Director Brian King said the FDA remains concerned about youth tobacco product use, and it cannot let its guard down on this issue.

“The agency has an array of enforcement tools at our disposal, and we’re committed to using them as appropriate,” he said. “We will not stand by as bad actors place profit over the health of our nation’s youth.”

The FDA announced a new wave of enforcement actions targeting illegal e-cigarettes with youth appeal in conjunction with its announcement on the NYTS findings. The agency is seeking civil money penalties (CMPs) against 20 retailers for selling unauthorized Elf Bar products—the most popular brand among youth according to the 2023 NYTS. These retailers had already been warned for selling unauthorized tobacco products, the FDA said, but had not stopped after the agency’s warning.

The complaints included smoke shops, convenience stores and grocery stores across the country. The CMPs will seek similar fines to what the agency asked for in September, it said, when it sought the maximum civil penalty of $19,192 for a single violation from each retailer.

Among youth who reported current use of e-cigarettes, the most commonly reported products were Elf Bar (56.7%), followed by Esco Bars (21.6%), Vuse (20.7%), Juul (16.5%) and Mr. Fog (13.6%), according to the survey.

While a decrease in e-cigarette use was observed among high school students, among middle school students there was an increase in current overall tobacco product use from 4.5% to 6.6%.

The findings of the NYTS were collected between March and June 2023. About 2.8 million youth currently use any tobacco product, the survey said, included about 1.97 million high school students and 800,000 middle school students. Current use is defined as use on one or more days during the past 30 days.

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