In what was supposed to be a closed-door meeting among “partners” of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the taxpayer-funded organization announced the results of the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). Among the “partners” at the meeting were prominent vaping opponent organizations such as Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes and the Truth Initiative.
Much to the vape opponent’s delight, according to the 2022 NYTS, youth vaping increased between 2021 and 2022. But contrary to what the CDC still refers to as an epidemic, overall, youth vaping has significantly decreased. Unfortunately, this is falling upon deaf ears as the CDC, and other nanny state organizations, continue to decry a false narrative of a supposed youth vaping epidemic.
In 2022, 3.3% of middle school students and 14.1% of high schoolers reported past-month use of e-cigarettes, defined as having used an e-cigarette on at least one occasion in the 30 days prior to the survey. Among middle school students, past-month vaping increased by 17.9%, and among high schoolers by 24.8%.
Overall, in 2022, an estimated 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported using vapor products in the month prior to the survey. This is a slight increase from 2021’s 1.72 million high schoolers and 320,000 middle schoolers that reported past-month e-cigarette use. Yet, this is a significant decline from 2019, when 5.3 million middle and high school students reported using vapor products in the 30 days prior to the survey, including 4.1 million high school students (27.5%) and 1.2 million middle schoolers (10.5%).
In fact, there are nearly 2.75 million fewer youth vapers in 2022 than in 2019, and between 2019 and 2022, past-month vapor product use has declined by 48.7% among high schoolers and by 68.6% among middle schoolers.
Of course, as they did with the 2021 NYTS, CDC and their “partner” organizations are quick to state that the 2022 and 2021 surveys cannot be compared to previous years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and changes in how the survey was conducted.
In 2019, the NYTS was conducted in school. In 2021, approximately 50.8% of student respondents had conducted the survey in school and 49.2% at home. According to the CDC, in 2022, 99.3% of respondents participated in the survey at school. If anything, the results from 2019 and 2022 are more comparable than 2021 and 2022.
In the closed-door meeting, one attendee questioned whether using the term youth vaping epidemic was appropriate. Dr. Linda Neff, Branch Chief of the CDC’s Epidemiology Branch, was quick to respond that the agency had never stopped using the word epidemic. Clearly, the agency is refusing to acknowledge the reduction of vaping among youths and continues to conflate a non-existing crisis.
Youth vaping has decreased and rather than continue demonization of alternatives to cigarettes, American public health ought to address what policies worked to lead to such dramatic declines while not blocking adult access to tobacco harm reduction products.