E-cigarette use among kids dropped in 2020; Advocates worry it could go back up

Posted at 6:31 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 08:42:37-04

NORFOLK, Va. - After doubling between 2017 and 2019, the number of kids using e-cigarettes went down in 2020.

There are still 3.6 million kids using e-cigarettes, though. That's nearly one in five high school students, according to the CDC, and advocates say they're worried the numbers could go up once kids return to the classroom.

Laurie Rubiner, executive vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says there are some things parents need to know, starting with what e-cigarettes look like.

While some can look like regular cigarettes, they also come in the shape of USB flash drives, pens and other items.

They're often appealing to kids because they can come in different flavors.

The CDC says in a study they found 99 percent of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even if doesn't always say it on the label. That can be especially harmful for kids, since their brains are still developing until about 25.

Linda Mendonca, president of the National Association of School Nurses, says e-cigarette smoking can cause memory loss and learning issues and lead to another problem.

"Studies have actually shown that youth who have used e-cigarettes later on turn to actual smoking cigarettes, so that's a concern," Mendonca said.

Rubiner says it's important for parents to have conversations with kids about e-cigarettes.

"Any of us who've raised teenagers knows that you just don't want to lecture kids, and you certainly don't want to be punitive, so having a one-on-one conversation letting your child know that you're with them in this fight and you're going to support them is the most important thing," Rubiner said.

Parents can go here to get more information on talking to their kids about e-cigarettes.