Earlier this month, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb blamed e-cigarette companies for teen vaping when addressing the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “They better step up and step up soon – to address these trends along with us. So far, I must say, I’ve mostly been disappointed by the tepid response from companies that know that a meaningful portion of their sales are being derived from kids. The e-cig companies have a chance to do something about it. The window is open. But it won’t be open for very long.” he said.
However, Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and senior scientist at its James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Brad Rodu, pointed out that Dr. Gottlieb’s accusations are misplaced. On a blog posted last week, Professor Rodu referred to data published by the FDA itself, which had clearly indicated that only 9.9% of all teen vapers had purchased the devices themselves.
“The charge that “a meaningful portion” of e-cigarette sales are made to children is undermined by a 2014 FDA survey: of 12.9 million adult (here) and 770,000 teen current e-cig users (here), only 9.9% of teens had bought their own e-cigs. The 76,000 teens who purchased products from retailers accounted for only 0.5% of all users and an even smaller fraction of all sales.” explained Rodu.
The professor pointed out that the fact that “over 90% of teens obtained e-cigarettes from social sources, such as friends or family,” makes new enforcement measures against e-cigarette retailers entirely illogical.
Are teen vaping rates even on the rise?
Additionally, the 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) annual survey results showed that contrary to what is commonly presumed, vaping rates amongst adolescents are dropping not rising. The survey results had clearly indicated that vaping rates had dropped for the second consecutive year, from 16.2% to 12.5% among 12th graders, and from 14.0% to 11.0%, among 10th graders.