The news about vaping just keeps getting worse: The number of people using electronic devices to inhale nicotine-fueled aerosol (called vaping) continues to rise despite the potential danger. Now people are getting serious lung-related illnesses from vaping (most often after using e-liquids or vape juice containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana)—and at least 37 people in 24 states have died.
Experts aren’t sure exactly what about the e-cigarettes is causing illness. But they do know this: “E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA, and we don’t know what chemicals are in them,” says Robert Goldberg, MD, a pulmonologist at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California. “People who use them are bringing unknown chemicals into their lungs.”
Here are some shocking statistics about vaping. All stats were current as of publication time.
11 million adults in the United States vape
A 2018 report in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that 11 million U.S. adults used e-cigarettes in 2016. More than half—51 percent—were younger than 35, and one in ten were between 18 and 24. A Gallup poll from later that year found that 9 percent of all U.S. adults—and one in five adults between the ages 18 to 29—said they vape. Clearly, more people need to understand these silent ways vaping may be harming the body.
One in four high school seniors vape
In September 2019, the New England Journal of Medicine published research showing a huge increase in vaping among the kids they checked—8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Using data from the University of Michigan’s Monitor the Future survey, the researchers found that rates for these grades more than doubled from 2017 to 2019, with the most recent statistics indicating that one in four 12th graders (up from one in 10) had vaped in the previous month. The number of e-cigarette smokers more than doubled among the younger grades, as well: 20 percent of 10th graders (up from 8 percent), and 9 percent of eighth-graders (up from 4 percent) reported that they had vaped in the last month. Find out which habits healthy kids have in common.
Nearly 2,000 people have become ill from vaping
As of October 29, 2019, about 1,888 cases of vaping-related lung injuries had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of the lung disease include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and stomach pain. The illnesses have occurred in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory. The vast majority (70 percent) of patients were male, and 86% reported using THC-containing products (although 11% exclusively used nicotine-containing products.) Check out some additional urgent reasons to stop vaping right now.
So far, 37 people have died
The CDC said that the death toll from vaping had reached 37 as of October 29 and was climbing. Deaths have occurred across the country, from California to Connecticut. Anna Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director at the CDC, said she expects the number of illnesses and deaths to increase and advised people to avoid vaping products, particularly those that contain THC or are sold on the street. However, the federal agency has stopped short of telling smokers to switch back to cigarettes.
“If you are an adult using e-cigarettes, or vaping, products, to quit smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes,” says the CDC. “Adults addicted to nicotine using e-cigarettes should weigh all risks and benefits and consider utilizing FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies.”
The youngest patient who died (so far) was 17
A 17-year-old boy from the Bronx, New York, became the 23rd vaping-related death on October 4, according to the CDC, New York state agencies, and the New York City mayor’s office. He was hospitalized twice in September with a vaping-related illness and later died. He was the first fatality in New York. However, cases have been seen in people aged 13 to 75 years of age. The vast majority of vaping-related illnesses are hitting young people. Four-fifths of the patients were under 35, and 14 percent were younger than 18. But older people are affected too: One patient who died was 75.
About 22 percent of adults under age 30 think vaping is “very harmful”
That number comes from Gallup and no doubt continues to climb thanks to news reports about the dangers and deaths connected with vaping. But as recently as July 2018, the date for this statistic, young adults were relatively unconcerned about the health effects of vaping. Older adults were more worried, with 40 percent of adults ages 30 to 64 and 48 percent of those 65 and older saying vaping is harmful. The reality is that JUULing, a type of vaping, could be as dangerous as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Role models entice kids to vape
According to the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey, the most common reason students in grades six through 12 give for vaping is that a friend or family member is doing it (cited by 39 percent of respondents). The availability of flavors like candy and fruit was also a common reason, cited by 31 percent of respondents. About half of them said they believed that vaping was less harmful than regular cigarettes (17 percent). Less common reasons included the fact that vape devices “are easier to get than other tobacco products, such as cigarettes” (5 percent), and they cost less than cigarettes (3 percent). Role modeling starts at home: Check out these 50 healthy habits to adopt as a family.
Seven states have banned flavored e-cigarettes
In October, Montana became the latest state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, with Governor Steve Bullock saying they are a growing epidemic harming young people. Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts have also passed bans. The Massachusetts law is the strictest—the state bans all vaping products, not just flavored ones. California is considering a similar measure. If you’re trying to stop vaping or smoking, here are 22 ways to quit.