E-cigarette use among teens is up. CVS is about to invest $10 million to try to reverse the trend.
CVS Health, which merged with health insurer Aetna last year in the largest health care deal in history, said it will award the funds to support programs focused on youth smoking and e-cigarette prevention.
“The spread of e-cigarette use among youth jeopardizes the progress made in reducing smoking over the last two decades,” Troyen Brennan, CVS Health’s chief medical officer, said in a statement. “By collaborating with experts and aggressively investing in innovative strategies, we believe that we can help reverse this disturbing trend.”
The investment is part of CVS Health’s Be The First initiative, a five-year, $50 million effort to “help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.” The money will go to classroom-based programs, to assist clinicians with resources to adress e-cigarette use and to support clinician training in local communities.
The rise of vaping
The 2011-2018 National Youth Tobacco survey — a report put out in February by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration — estimated there was a 1.3 million increase in teen tobacco users from 2017 to 2018, all of which was linked to teen use of e-cigarettes, often called vaping.
The rise was so significant that it has wiped out any progress in declining youth tobacco use in recent years, according to the report
The increase in vaping was the single-biggest jump in teen use of a tobacco product since the beginning of the survey in 1999, said Brian King, a deputy director in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and co-author of the report.
King and his colleagues analyzed data from the 2011-18 National Youth Tobacco survey to estimate trends among high school and middle school students and found that in 2018, 27% of high school students and 7.2% of middle school students said they used tobacco for one or more days in the month.
Among all tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and hookah, e-cigarettes — also known as vapes — were the ones most commonly used by teens; 3.05 million or 20.8% of high school students and 570,000 or 4.9% of middle school students said they vaped at least once in the previous month. Also, there were 1.5 million more teens using e-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2017.
The researchers also found no significant change in the current use of combustible tobacco products by teens, other than e-cigarettes, that drove the overall increase in youth tobacco use. Notably, no decline in use of other tobacco products was identified.