Efforts to curb the sharp growth of vaping among teens appear to have paid off, according to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), a joint effort between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey, which involved more than 20,000 high school and middle school students, found that less than 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students reported recently vaping. It is a marked decline from a similar survey last year which found about 28% of high school students and 11% of middle school students reported recently vaping.

The agency gave credit for the downturn to the ban on flavored vapes, increasing the age limit for buying vape products, and last year’s outbreak of vape-related lung injuries and deaths. Another factor may have been kids being stuck at home instead of at school due to mandated closures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“After two years of disturbing increases in youth e-cigarette use, we are encouraged by the overall significant decline reported in 2020,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., said in a statement. “This is good news; however, the FDA remains very concerned about the 3.6 million U.S. youth who currently use e-cigarettes and we acknowledge there is work that still needs to be done to curb youth use.”

Dr. Hahn went on to say that vaping “remains a public health crisis that is affecting children, families, schools, and communities, and we will do everything possible to stop it — including new actions we are taking today.”

Those new actions include taking a robust scientific evaluation of new tobacco products, including many currently on the market, to ensure, among other things, that they don’t appeal to young people. The agency is also stepping up enforcement actions against manufacturers, distributors, and retailers who violate the law with so-called electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The agency also reported that it issued warning letters to three companies that either sell or distribute unauthorized ENDS products to remove them from the market.

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