Teen vaping numbers climb, mint the top flavor for many

A person vaping

A person vaping

Forty-seven percent of 12th-grade Juul users said their preferred flavor was mint, followed by 24 percent who said mango. That suggests a shift after Juul's sweeter flavors were removed from retail stores.

The research was published Monday in the medical journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. They include a government report indicating that teen vaping numbers have climbed since a year ago.

That policy was still under review when Gottlieb left the FDA in April and the Trump administration opted for the more aggressive flavor ban when it became clear that youth e-cigarette use was continuing to climb.

More than half of teenagers who vape use Juul e-cigarettes, and its mint pods are the No. 1 flavor favored by high school kids, according to two new studies published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "[Such moves] could also encourage the millions of USA adolescents who already use e-cigarettes to quit vaping, especially if they can no longer access e-cigs in flavors they like".

An estimated 28% of high school students and 11% of middle schoolers surveyed earlier this year had vaped within the past month.

Of the approximately 42,500 participants in the nationally representative survey, one-third was asked additional questions about their preferred flavors of the popular e-cigarette brand Juul.

"The findings that mint really was the most popular flavor among almost all kids is a really important finding particularly when considering different policies that are on the table right now", says Dr. Jessica Barrington-Trimis, an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC. In heavy vaping teens who used Juul on 20 or more days in the past month, mint was the most popular flavor in all grades.

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"These products are still getting to kids and we can not let a whole generation get addicted to them through mint and menthol and other flavors", Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said when the ban was first proposed. Flavors of other similar e-cigarette products are still widely available, except in a handful of states that have banned them.

A study by Leventhal published October 28 in the journal Pediatrics found that teens who use flavored e-cigarettes are more likely to become regular users and vape more heavily.

While critics of the sale of e-cigarettes in USA have cited vape lung as a pressing issue, Chinese authorities are concerned that minors are increasingly using sites like Taobao, JD.com and others to buy the devices and are not required to show any identification to verify their age when buying e-cigarettes online.

The results follow the Trump administration's call in September to ban virtually all vaping flavors.

Health advocates who've long fought for declines in smoking among the young said the rise in vaping is troubling.

"Exemptions for mint and menthol are problematic if we're really thinking about preventing kids from using these products", said USC study co-author Jessica Barrington-Trimis.

The findings come just a few weeks after Juul - which makes the best-selling e-cigarette brand in the United States - said it would bow to pressure and take fruit and desert flavors off the market, but keep selling mint, menthol and tobacco flavors. The Vapor Technology Association, which represents the industry, however, is pushing back against a ban with a marketing campaign. Juul didn't immediately have a comment on the studies.

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