Cigarette smoking kills millions of Americans. Fortunately, in recent years, e-cigarettes and vapor products have shaken up the marketplace, leading to significant declines in combustible cigarette use. Yet, lawmakers and regulators are being influenced by billionaires to end the sale of e-cigarettes in America, despite the fact that these products help people quit smoking. One tactic used by anti-vaping activists is to scare parents by declaring that teen vaping is a public health crisis. But is this true?

“Teen vaping continues to be a public health crisis.”
Washington Post

False. Completely make believe.

Youth vaping is declining. Contrary to the headlines, youth vaping peaked in 2019 and has steadily declined in the years since. Between 2019 and 2022, vaping among American youth halved from 5.3 million to 2.55 million. Even better, youth vaping has not led to an increase in smoking rates.

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, between 2019 and 2022, vapor product use declined by 48.7% among high schoolers and by 68.6 percent among middle schoolers. In fact, there were an estimated 2.75 million fewer youth vapers in 2022 than in 2019. 

Despite that promising data, the CDC continues to demonize e-cigarettes, while at the same time admitting that young adult smoking rates are at their lowest levels ever. This alarmism is supported by e-cigarette opponents, including Bloomberg-funded activists, who falsely claim e-cigarettes are a gateway drug for teen smoking.  

Yet, according to the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (BRFSS), which includes information on smoking status, including current and/or former, age, gender, income, and education level,  the introduction of e-cigarettes has led to remarkable declines in smoking rates.

According to the BRFSS, in 2021, 7.4% of adults aged 18 to 24 years old were current smokers. This represents a 22.5% decline from 2020 when 9.6% of young adults were currently smoking. Since 2018, when the U.S. Surgeon General declared a youth vaping epidemic, young adult smoking rates have decreased by 40.7%, with an average annual decline of 15.8%.

While youth vaping peaked several years ago, the introduction of e-cigarettes has led to remarkable declines in combustible cigarette use. When determining the fate of e-cigarette products, public health and lawmakers must rely on sound and factual data.

To learn more about this, read our policy focus: E-cigarettes and Public Health.