From 2017 to 2018, the Monitoring the Future survey found that the rise in e-cigarette use by 10th graders and 12th graders is the largest single-year increase in use of a substance recorded by the survey for those groups. … [W]e are at risk of a huge share of a whole generation developing an addiction to nicotine—and that is not a future anyone wants for our country. At HHS, we have been developing a comprehensive, balanced approach to this challenge.
As Prepared for Delivery
Good morning, and thank you, everyone, for joining this important gathering.
I’d particularly like to thank those who have joined us at HHS today to share their perspectives on how e-cigarette use is spreading among our youth, and I’d like to thank everyone at HHS who is helping to understand and address the problem.
That includes our Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who will be issuing the first-ever surgeon general’s advisory on youth e-cigarette use today.
It also includes FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is leading a comprehensive policy response to the rise of e-cigarette use among young Americans.
It also includes many leaders from across HHS, including CDC, SAMHSA, and NIH, who are helping us better track the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.
One of the latest data points we just received comes from the NIH-funded Monitoring the Future survey, produced by scholars at the University of Michigan.
This important annual survey of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults provides insight into how substance use is changing among these populations.
From 2017 to 2018, the Monitoring the Future survey found that the rise in e-cigarette use by 10th graders and 12th graders is the largest single-year increase in use of a substance recorded by the survey for those groups.
In the last year, the share of 12th graders reporting e-cigarette use in the past 30 days rose from 11 percent to 21 percent—almost doubling and taking us to where more than 1 in 5 high school seniors report using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Monitoring the Future has been surveying American 12th graders every year since 1975, and it has never seen a spike in use of a particular substance of more than 5 percentage points.
This dramatic rise is consistent with what we have seen from CDC and FDA’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, which found a 78 percent increase in high schoolers’ e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018.
The bottom line is that, in the data sets we use, we have never seen use of any substance by America’s young people rise this rapidly. This is an unprecedented challenge.
It comes at a time when there are encouraging signs in other areas: Use of some other nicotine products is dropping, and use of alcohol and opioids is dropping, too.
But we are at risk of a huge share of a whole generation developing an addiction to nicotine—and that is not a future anyone wants for our country.
At HHS, we have been developing a comprehensive, balanced approach to this challenge.
We want to ensure that e-cigarettes can be used as an off-ramp for adults who want to quit combustible cigarettes. Traditional, combustible cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and providing an effective off-ramp from them is a public health priority.
But at the same time, we cannot allow e-cigarettes to become an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for younger Americans.
So we will continue raising awareness of this challenge and exploring the right policy solutions.
You will hear more about that from Surgeon General Adams and then from Commissioner Gottlieb.
I want to reiterate: E-cigarettes could help many American adults end their addiction to traditional cigarettes, but we cannot let them ensnare younger Americans into a new addiction.
I’d now like to hand things over to Vice Admiral Adams, who has made addiction and mental health issues a top priority during his time as America’s top doctor.
I’m grateful for his decision to shine a light on this issue today and I’ll hand it over to him now.