High School E-Cigarette Use Drops While Unauthorized Products Appeal to Youth

CTP Connect

National Survey Shows Drop in E-Cigarette Use Among High School Students

In November, FDA and CDC released data from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) on tobacco product use among U.S. youth. The findings, which were collected between March and June 2023, show that 10 percent of U.S. middle and high school students (2.8 million youth) reported current use of any tobacco product.

Among U.S. high school students, current overall tobacco product use declined during 2022–2023 (16.5 to 12.6 percent). This decline was primarily attributable to reduced e-cigarette use (14.1 to 10 percent), which translates to 580,000 fewer high school students who reported current use of e-cigarettes in 2023. Among high school students, declines in current use were also observed during 2022–2023 for cigars and overall combustible tobacco smoking, representing all-time lows. 

“It’s encouraging to see this substantial decline in e-cigarette use among high schoolers within the past year, which is a win for public health,” said Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “But we can’t rest on our laurels. There’s more work to be done to build on this progress.”

Although a decrease in e-cigarette use was observed among high school students, among middle school students, there was an increase in current overall tobacco product use (4.5 to 6.6 percent) and multiple tobacco product use (1.5 to 2.5 percent). However, among middle school students overall, no significant change was observed during 2022-2023 for current use of any individual tobacco product type, including e-cigarettes.

Read More About the Survey Findings

FDA Takes Actions Against Retailers for Selling Unauthorized Products That Appeal to Youth

Between September and December, FDA filed civil money penalty complaints against 67 brick and mortar and online retailers for the illegal sale of unauthorized Elf Bar, EB Design and other e-cigarettes. The e-cigarette products that were the focus of these complaints are especially popular among youth. Findings from the 2023 NYTS show that Elf Bar was the most commonly used brand among middle and high school students who reported using e-cigarettes (56.7 percent).    

In November, FDA issued warning letters to 14 online retailers for selling and/or distributing unauthorized e-cigarettes. Seven of the warning letters cite the sale of popular and youth-appealing disposable e-cigarette products marketed under the brand names Elf Bar, EB Design, Bang, Cali Bars, and Lava. The other seven warning letters cite retailers for selling and/or distributing unauthorized e-cigarettes packaged to look like youth-appealing toys and drink containers, including milk cartons, soft drink bottles, and slushies. The products’ design may help youth conceal the e-cigarettes from adults. The design may also be confused with an everyday object and the contents accidently ingested by young children.

E-cigarette that looks like a milk carton

E-cigarette packaging resembling a milk carton and a milk carton drink container

FDA also issued a warning letter to Nic Nac Naturals, LLC for the marketing of their unauthorized dissolvable nicotine products, which the company describes as “nicotine mints” and resemble a pack of mints. These products are of particular concern because of their resemblance to popular candies and the potential to cause severe nicotine toxicity or even death if accidentally ingested by young children.

Nic Nac Naturals nicotine mints compared to a pack of mints

Dissolvable Nic Nac nicotine product packaging compared to food product packaging

These actions were informed by FDA’s ongoing monitoring of multiple surveillance systems to identify products that are popular among youth or have youth appeal. It is important for educators and those who work with youth to be aware of these illegal youth-appealing products, which can be deceiving and easily concealed, including among younger students.

You Can Help FDA Prevent the Sale of Tobacco Products to Young People

To ensure businesses selling tobacco products, in person or online, follow all of the restrictions on the marketing and sale of tobacco products, FDA monitors compliance through surveillance and inspections by investigating complaints from the public about potential retailer violations.

The public can report potential violations to FDA in just minutes. Complaints may be submitted anonymously, if desired. By sending complaints of potential tobacco product violations to FDA, you help us monitor industry compliance with laws, reduce the health impact of tobacco use, and keep young people tobacco-free.

Learn How to Report Retailers to FDA

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