OCEAN COUNTY – A survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a reduction in vaping among high school and middle school students.
Country-wide, the survey said that the number of school-aged children who use e-cigarettes dropped by 1.8 million since last year. This is a change from 5.4 million to 3.6 million.
“With the pandemic making all the headlines, it’s satisfying to see some positive results concerning a public health issue that has had a tremendous impact on the lives of our teens and young people,” explained Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “The news is good but teen vaping is still an epidemic in the US. More than 3 million young people still using e-cigarettes so there’s still work to be done.”
The percent of high schoolers using e-cigarettes and vaping products dropped from 28 percent to 20 percent. For middle school students, it dropped from 11 percent to 5 percent.
Ocean County Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer, Daniel Regenye said the national survey is conducted at schools each year by the CDC and usually 20,000 middle and high school students participate. It asks students if they had used any vaping or traditional tobacco products in the previous month. The survey was cut short this year as schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the Public Health community was pleasantly surprised by the data,” Regenye said. “Measures such as public health media and awareness campaigns, the increase of price and sales restrictions together with raising the age limit for sales to 21 – all contributed to the decline.”
The outbreak of COVID-19 possibly impacted this in other ways. Sales started falling for the chemicals throughout the year as the pandemic spread, Regenye said. Some reports linked those getting sick with people who vaped solutions containing THC.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration banned flavors that were most frequently used by minors.
“Overall the teen vaping data is extremely encouraging and the timing couldn’t be any better now that the pandemic and start of the flu season are converging,” added Patricia High, OCHD Assistant Public Health Coordinator. “All of these can lead to significant respiratory breakdown and put an added burden on our health care systems at a time when resources have already been stretched.”