Unveiling the Epidemic: Youth Nicotine Use in the United States and Colorado

Feb 12

In recent years, the rise in youth nicotine use, particularly through vaping, has become a pressing public health concern in the United States and Colorado. Despite efforts to curb its prevalence, vaping among adolescents continues to escalate, fueled by various factors. This blog post delves into the statistics, accessibility, and health consequences of youth nicotine use, shedding light on the urgent need for action.

Vaping & Nicotine Statistics

According to recent data, youth nicotine use, predominantly through vaping devices like e-cigarettes, has reached alarming levels. In the United States, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students reported current use of e-cigarettes in 2020, representing a significant increase from previous years (CDC, 2021). Similarly, in Colorado, the prevalence of youth vaping remains a critical issue, with 25% of high school students reporting e-cigarette use in the past 30 days (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2021).


One of the primary reasons for the widespread use of nicotine among youth is the accessibility of vaping products. Unlike traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes are available in a variety of appealing flavors and are often marketed using tactics that appeal to young audiences. Furthermore, the rise of online sales and lax enforcement of age restrictions contribute to the ease with which adolescents can obtain vaping devices and nicotine-containing products.

Health Consequences

The health consequences of youth nicotine use and vaping (which can sometimes include nicotine and sometimes cannabis) are profound and far-reaching. Nicotine, a highly addictive substance found in e-cigarettes, can adversely affect adolescent brain development, leading to impaired cognition and increased susceptibility to addiction later in life (USDHHS, 2016). Additionally, vaping has been linked to various respiratory issues, including lung damage and respiratory illnesses like EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury) (CDC, 2020). Moreover, the long-term health effects of vaping are still being studied, highlighting the urgent need for prevention and intervention efforts.


The escalating rates of youth nicotine use in the United States, and particularly in Colorado, demand immediate attention and action. By understanding the statistics, accessibility factors, and health consequences associated with vaping, educators and school leaders can play a pivotal role in implementing evidence-based prevention strategies and supporting youth in making informed decisions about their health. Together, we can combat the youth nicotine epidemic and safeguard the well-being of future generations.

Call to Action

Explore the YESS Academy comprehensive youth vaping prevention program tailored for middle and early high school students and their educators and school leaders! Our program includes a full facilitator guidebook, video tutorials, and evidence-based resources to equip you with the tools needed to address youth nicotine use effectively. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how you can make a difference in your community!


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). Youth and Tobacco Use. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/index.htm

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2021). Healthy Kids Colorado Survey Results. Retrieved from https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/healthy-kids-colorado-survey

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). (2016). E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/2016_sgr_full_report_non-508.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html