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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report on Monday blaming the reversal of the years-long decline in tobacco usage on vaping and specifically, the popularity of JUUL devices. According to the agency, the use of any tobacco products (including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other forms of tobacco) grew by 38.3% from 2017 to 2018. To put this in perspective, the CDC vaping report found that there were 1.5 million more current youth e-cigarette users in 2017 than 2018, up from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018. The increase from 2017 to 2018 is so significant that it has essentially wiped out the progress in curbing youth tobacco use over the last several years.

The CDC has surveyed students on their tobacco use since 1999. The CDC surveys students each year on their use of a variety of tobacco products including cigarettes, hookah, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. Only e-cigarettes showed a significant increase in use among students. Traditional cigarette use has shown a slight uptick as well. In 2017, 7.6% of teens smoked cigarettes. By 2018, that number rose to 8.1%.

“The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use,” CDC Director Robert Redfield stated. “It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction.”

The CDC vaping report specifically singled out JUUL, and its popularity among teens, as a significant contributing factor in the rising rates of youth tobacco usage.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has called teen vaping an “epidemic”. The agency plans to roll out new rules in the coming months that would limit sales of flavored pods to age-restricted stores, such as vape shops, in addition to other restrictions aimed at stopping youth vaping in its tracks.

Gottlieb said in a statement, “These trends require forceful and sometimes unprecedented action among regulators, public health officials, manufacturers, retailers and others to address this troubling problem.”

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