New Flavored Nicotine Products Second Most Used By US Teens, Survey Finds

Nicotine products are gaining traction among teens. The use of flavored nicotine products is seeing a rise and a survey found just how prevalent these products are in US teens.

In a survey conducted by USC's Keck School of Medicine, over 3,500 teens in Southern California were asked about the nicotine products they use. Researchers found that new flavored oral nicotine products ranked second. The results of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics.

"Surprisingly, these new flavored oral nicotine products were the second most commonly used product among our sample, second only to e-cigarettes," the study's lead author, Alyssa F. Harlow said.

The data collected from 3,516 teens in 2021 was part of an ongoing behavioral health study of teens in Southern California. The participants were in the ninth and 10th grades from 11 high schools across Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Imperial counties.

As per the survey results, 3.4% of teens had used the flavored nicotine products at least once, while 1.7% had used them in the past six months. E-cigarettes, commonly known as vapes, led the survey, with 9.6% of teens who said they had used them at least once, and 5.5% of teens who had used them in the past six months.

"Our findings are concerning because these products often have a high nicotine content, which we know is harmful to teens, and they're really easy to hide and conceal," Harlow said, adding that the products come in sweet flavors like "cherry bomb" and "fruit medley" that teens may find appealing.

While these nicotine products do not contain tobacco, they are not FDA-approved to help people quit smoking, as reported by medicalxpress. Exposure to these products early in life may disrupt brain development and learning, and also affect memory and attention, eventually leading to nicotine addiction.

The results also found that the propensity to use flavored oral nicotine products was higher among teens who were Hispanic, girls, and the ones who identified as LGBTQ.

"Some of these subpopulations are young people who have historically been impacted by tobacco-related disparities," Harlow said. "It's important for us to continue monitoring the use of these products among young people to determine the potential influence on those disparities."

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