US experts want doctors to add vaping to youth prevention pitch

A ban on electronic cigarettes should be part of the anti-tobacco campaign.
A ban on electronic cigarettes should be part of the anti-tobacco campaign.

Doctors should add electronic cigarettes to their efforts to prevent young people from using tobacco, the US Preventive Services Task Force says.

It's the most significant change in a draft statement updating 2013 recommendations on steps primary care providers should take to stop tobacco use in kids.

Those measures include education and brief counselling.

The task force – an independent, volunteer panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine – also called for more research on ways to help young people quit using tobacco.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and it usually starts before adulthood. Nearly 90% of smokers try their first cigarette before age 18, according to the task force.

"Preventing tobacco use among our young people is critical to the health of the nation," task force member Dr Michael Silverstein said in an organisation news release. "All youth are at risk for tobacco use and should be provided with interventions to help prevent them from ever starting."

A serious shortfall

Vaping is now more common among young people than traditional cigarette smoking. More than 1 million US high school students used cigarettes in 2018, but more than three million (one in five high schoolers) used e-cigarettes.

The task force also examined evidence on ways to help young people quit using tobacco and found a serious shortfall in that area.

"Helping youth quit using tobacco is vital to their health," said task force member Dr Chien-Wen Tseng. "Unfortunately, studies have not yet identified effective ways to help children and teens quit, and the task force is calling for more research in this area."

The task force's draft recommendation and evidence review have been posted on its website for public review.

Image credit: iStock

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