A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found some promising news: Teen vaping rates are down, which is great — except there's a bit of a catch. No one's quite sure why the numbers are dropping, and, overall, vaping rates are actually on the rise for adults. Among middle and high schoolers, vaping apparently isn't cool anymore.
The CDC discovered that there were about 2.2 million teens who vaped last year, which is down from 3 million the year before. This is good news, since it might mean that adult smoking rates will also eventually be lower. This is the first time that the CDC has seen a decrease since the agency started tracking it in 2011, although last year, a study out of the University of Michigan found that teen vaping rates were also on the decline.
As mentioned, no one really knows why the vaping rates among teens are dropping though, which is a bit of a problem as well. It could be that no-smoking campaigns are working, or that the federal regulation to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors is already effective. Or, unfortunately, it could mean that teens who use vapes are just not the same kids who pick up actual cigarettes — which the CDC admitted is entirely possible.
When vapes hit the market a few years ago, they were fun and interesting to try in a social setting, but they've lost their novelty by now, at least among the younger demographic. It's too early to know if that trend will continue.
Brian King, from the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, told NBC News, “We do know that e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth and that's been the case since about 2014." He added that, for now, these numbers look like a "public health win."
Anti-smoking advocates are not getting too excited just yet, though. Although the decline is a good sign, that could change going forward. President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget would significantly cut funding to the CDC Office on Smoking, which means that there would be less cash to throw behind awareness campaigns targeted namely at young kids and teens. And that could translate into a negative change in trends.
American Lung Association CEO Harold Wimmer said in a statement:
Funding to states would also be severely cut, making it even harder to prevent and reduce tobacco use in local communities across the country. Congress must reconsider this ill-advised budget and robustly fund the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids also thinks the numbers are directly correlated to sufficient funding. He told NBC he thinks it has to do with higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws, Food and Drug Administration oversight, and tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Regulations and spending are not things Republican administrations are usually all about.
Hopefully the facts behind the longterm effects of smoking and vaping are enough to keep those programs, regulations, and funding in place. Because everyone knows that if the teens think something is lame, eventually it will go out of style.