Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Not All Teen Smokers & Vapers Are Lawbreakers


Sixteen percent of high school exclusive vapers in the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), or 184,000 out of 1.15 million, were 18 years of age or older, meaning that they could buy tobacco products legally.  

Legal-age students also constituted one-quarter of high school smokers and 23% of dual users, according to the NYTS and shown on the chart at left.

Legal-age students are themselves the most common source for e-cigarettes among underage students, as the following table shows.  The majority of underage students (74%) obtained e-cigarettes from family members, friends and others.  The next biggest source was vape shops (12%).  The Internet, which was singled out by FDA Commissioner Gottlieb in his recent announcement, was the source for fewer than 5% of underage vapers.   



E-Cigarettes Sources for Underage High School Users, 2017


Source
Friend64.0%
Family member5.8%
Other person4.0%


Vape shop11.8%
Internet4.7%
Other retail3.6%
Gas station/convenience store3.4%
Mall kiosk1.4%
Drugstore1.2%
Grocery storeUnder 1%




Retailers must stop selling e-cigarettes to underage youths, and the FDA is responsible for enforcing that rule.  However, it is critical that regulators and the public address the fact that friends and family are the biggest contributors to underage use.



N.B.  Thanks to Bill Godshall for suggesting this assessment.




Monday, October 1, 2018

The FDA’s Teen E-Cigarette-Addiction Epidemic Doesn’t Add Up



Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on September 12 announced an agency initiative to “address [the] epidemic of youth e-cigarette use” (here) and a teen-vaping-related “epidemic of addiction.”  He promised to use the FDA’s “civil and criminal enforcement tools” to reign in e-cigarette marketers.

Dr. Gottlieb based his assessment on non-public data, but publicly available data from the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) does not show an epidemic. 

The table at left displays the percentages of the estimated 14.9 million high school students who were “currently” using cigarettes and e-cigarettes, by number of days in the past month.  The numbers in each box represent the percentages of all high school students.  For example, 84.3% of students used neither product (bold text, upper left). 

Current users of e-cigarettes are in the red-bordered boxes.  The majority (60%) of current vapers used the products 5 or fewer days (green text) – the equivalent of trying products at a party.  In contrast, a minority (20%) of vapers used them 20-30 days (red text), which is suggestive of dependence.  Half of those were not using cigarettes (bold red text).  This means that in 2017, only 184,000 high schoolers (1.24% of 14.9 million) constituted the FDA’s e-cigarette-addiction epidemic.