1 in 20 Americans vape, according to vaping statistics, and youth e-cigarette use has increased by 1,800%
By SingleCare Team | Updated on Feb. 3, 2023Medically reviewed by Lindsey Hudson, APRN, NP-C, CDCES
What is vaping? | How popular is it? | Worldwide vaping statistics | U.S. vaping statistics | Vaping statistics by age | Teen vaping statistics | Vaping vs. smoking | Health effects | Cost | Why people vape | Cessation | FAQ | Research
We’ve come a long way since the ’60s when Hollywood starlets puffed cigarettes on silver screens and parents lit up in their living rooms. Over the past 60 years, traditional cigarettes and tobacco products have been slowly exiting the cultural landscape, as use has dropped 68% among adults (American Lung Association). But on their way out, they held the door open for a new bane to pulmonologists everywhere: e-cigarettes.
Americans, particularly young adults, have traded Marlboros and Newports for JUUL pods and vape pens. On street corners, back porches, and sidewalks across the United States, you can catch people puffing clouds of flavored vapor. There’s been plenty of discussion on the safety of e-cigarette use, and its effects on our public health. You can read any number of blogs and social media posts about the relative hazards and merits of vaping, and it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. But here you’ll find the straight stats on e-cigarettes and vaping facts.
The technical name is electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), which is an umbrella term that encompasses vape pens, pods, tanks, mods, and electronic cigarettes. These devices are designed to simulate cigarette or cigar smoking using aerosolized vapor instead of smoke. They employ a heating element that vaporizes a liquid (propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings), allowing the user to inhale it.
Typically, e-cigarettes have a rechargeable base—they often look like pens or USB flash drives—and disposable cartridges that contain the flavored e-liquid. So, although vape devices incorporate a heating element, there’s not actually any combustion or smoke involved. The amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes varies between brands and delivery methods, and its labeling isn’t always reliable. Because these products don’t have the same chemical aggregation of cigarettes and avoid the damaging effects of smoke, some have pitched and marketed e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes. But as e-cigarette use increases, their health risks are becoming more evident.
The use of e-cigarettes is on the rise—but is it a passing fad or here to stay? Current vaping statistics can provide some context and help model its continued ascent.
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Many people think of vaping as a “healthy alternative” to smoking, but this isn’t necessarily the case. They might be healthier, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy. The more we learn about e-cigarettes, the more detrimental health consequences we discover. For one, vaping products contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, so what starts as a habit can develop into serious nicotine addiction.
While e-cigarettes are still a fairly new trend, studies have linked them to increased blood pressure, heart disease, gum inflammation, lung disease, brain development effects, and severe lung injury.
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Although it’s often cheaper than traditional cigarettes, vaping isn’t cheap. Vaping can cost $387 to $5,082.50 per year whereas smoking a pack of cigarettes a day can cost $2,087.80 to $5,091.75, according to the manufacturer Ruthless Vapor. And the cost of vaping doesn’t stop at the price of the products. As mentioned above, vaping can result in serious health problems, emergencies, and hospitalizations.
Back when vaping was first starting to gain social traction, they were, in a way, viewed as lite cigarettes. A majority of e-cigarette users were smokers attempting to make the switch, drawn to the more favorable odor, better taste, variety of flavors, as well as the perception that vaping products were safer and healthier.
But over the years, the vaping population has gotten significantly younger. The “average vape user” is no longer a 25- to 45-year-old attempting to quit smoking. Rather, it’s a 15- to 19-year-old, a high schooler JUULing with friends while hanging out. Consequently, the reasons for vaping have changed. According to the NIH Monitoring the Future survey, these teen users vape:
Of course, there’s still a large chunk of e-cigarette users that vape as an alternative to smoking, but that population seems to be shrinking.
Vaping has been billed as a smoking cessation method, but e-cigarettes can contain just as much nicotine (and sometimes more), making them equally addictive. Because they’re more accessible and easier to use anywhere, vape products can be even harder to drop.
Anyone who has attempted to kick regular cigarettes to the curb knows that going cold turkey, while occasionally effective, is incredibly difficult. These willpower superheroes excluded, most people see better results from a gradual process.
The first step is often the simplest, but most effective: identify motivators. People who know exactly why they want to quit have a more concrete, traversable path ahead of them. An accountability network can have the same effect. Vapers with support from friends, family, and others usually find it easier to stay strong. Finding activities to replace vaping can help too, like chewing gum, sunflower seeds, or a toothpick. People attempting to quit should also know their triggers, the situations in which they’re most prone to reach for the JUUL or vape pen so that they can mentally prepare to face them.
Nicotine withdrawal is no joke, and some people choose to wean themselves off with nicotine patches, gum, or nasal sprays. Depending on how often someone used vape products, these nicotine-replacement therapies can be effective as well. Doctors can also prescribe smoking cessation drugs like Chantix and Zyban.
There were 41 million e-cigarette users worldwide (World Health Organization) as of 2018, and that number is expected to reach 55 million by 2021 (Euromonitor).
Teens and young adults. Gallup says that 20% of people age 18 to 29 vape, compared to 9% of people age 30 to 49, 7% of people age 50 to 64, and less than 0.5% of people older than 65. And, according to the Truth Initiative, 15- to 17-year-olds are 16 times more likely to vape than 25- to 34-year-olds.
Nearly 12% of 12th graders, 6.9% of 10th graders, and 1.9% of 8th graders vape every day, according to a National Institute of Drug Abuse survey.
E-cigarettes produce numerous toxic chemicals that are linked to lung disease, including acetaldehyde, acrolein, formaldehyde, and various heavy metals (American Lung Association). Additionally, certain vaping products have caused more than 2,800 separate cases of severe lung injury (CDC).
No. Even though research is ongoing, vaping has been linked to heart disease, lung disease, and severe lung injury.
Yes. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug. A recent CDC study found that 99% of all vaping products have nicotine—even the ones that claim to be nicotine-free.
Vaping isn’t necessarily worse than cigarettes. Since it doesn’t produce smoke, it can be slightly better, but both are unhealthy. E-cigarettes still contain dangerous chemicals and ongoing research continues to link them to various diseases.
No. Traditional tobacco use (particularly cigarettes), has been declining since the early 2000s. The CDC reports that cigarette smoking decreased from 20.9% in 2005 to 13.7% in 2018.
There aren’t accurate statistics on worldwide vaping deaths, but lung injury caused by vaping products has been linked to 68 deaths in the U.S. so far. However, because vaping is a relatively new trend, it may be several years before we see its long-term effects.
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