CDC report says 2 million fewer teens are vaping compared to last year

In a new CDC report, almost 2 million fewer teens in the United States reported using e-cigarettes in 2020 compared to 2019. What's behind the plunge? 

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20% of high schoolers and 5% of middle schoolers said they recently used e-cigarettes and other vaping products. Those numbers down from 28% and 11%, respectively, last year. 

Officials believe 2019's rash of vaping-related illnesses and deaths may have scared off some kids. But even as vaping use declined, the data shows disposable e-cigarette use is on the rise. 

Following the flare-up of illnesses linked to vaping, the Food and Drug Administration banned flavored e-cigarettes. However, it still allowed the sale of disposable products, which often contain sweet, fruity flavors. 

Health experts say the drop would have been more significant had the FDA outlawed all flavored products. 

"When companies make flavors like Sour Patch Kids or Banana Ice or Blue Raz, these are more often than not flavors that are targeted towards a younger demographic," said Dr. Sameer Khanijo, who's the Medical Director at North Shore University Hospital's Respiratory Care Unit.

Vaping has become a popular activity among teenagers over the past decade. 

In December, the federal government raised the minimum age to buy many of these products to 21 but some companies are still illegally marketing or selling their products to kids. 

"I smoked when I was 12 years old. I always found cigarettes, it never would've stopped me. The kids are still going to get these things," said Larry Hislop.

The argument for using e-cigarettes? Many vapers say it's helped them kick their smoking habits. 

"People have the right to choose vaping over cigarettes," said Leon Simmons Jr.

The FDA is now working on closing a loophole that had allowed flavored disposal e-cigarettes to stay on the market. The vapes are usually devices with refill cartridges, and e-cigarettes can be disposable.