The staggering costs of smoking to individuals, employers, and society have been well documented for decades. Now, new research published in the journal Tobacco Control provides some of the first evidence of the costs of e-cigarette use.
Using national data on nearly 110,000 U.S. insured adults, researchers found that e-cigarette users were more likely to report poor health than never tobacco users, which in turn was associated with a higher number of hospital inpatient nights, emergency room visits, doctor visits, and home health visits in the past 12 months.
The costs of this healthcare use among exclusive e-cigarette users totaled $1.3 billion annually. This equated to roughly $1,800 more per exclusive e-cigarette user compared to a person who doesn’t use any tobacco product. The costs of dual/poly tobacco use were even higher, at $2,024 per person.
The authors noted that “despite the lack of understanding of the long-term health impact of e-cigarette use, the contribution of current e-cigarette use to rising healthcare spending is significant and should not be overlooked.”
How many people use e-cigarettes?
While e-cigarette use among all adults has been relatively stable over the past 5 years at about 3% (9.1 million adults), e-cigarette use specifically among young adults ages 18-24 continues to rise. In 2018, 7.6% of young adults (2.3 million) were “users.” In 2020, that number had increased to 9.4% of young adults (2.8 million).
Keep in mind, these substantial healthcare costs occurred in the context of relatively low prevalence of e-cigarette use among adults. These costs could increase if teens continue to use e-cigarettes as they age into adulthood.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 2.55 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the last month, and 42.3% reported vaping on 20 or more days of the month.
Nicotine is harmful to developing brains. Younger users are more likely to become addicted, have more difficulty quitting, and may be at higher risk for addiction to other substances in the future.
Are all e-cigarettes the same?
There are hundreds of e-cigarette brands on the market today, and thousands of flavors. From pod-based systems to disposables to the earlier tank style, e-cigarettes are not all the same. Importantly, nicotine levels are highly variable. In fact, some reach or exceed levels found in cigarettes.
JUUL Labs, one prominent manufacturer of e-cigarettes, reports that each 5% cartridge contains approximately 40 mg nicotine per pod and is “approximately equivalent to about 1 pack of cigarettes.”
Nicotine strengths in e-cigarettes can range from 0.8% to over 5%. This matters because nicotine is an addictive substance and the higher the concentration, the more likely the user will become addicted.
What is the cost of vaping on financial wellness?
Although buying e-cigarettes can be cheaper than traditional cigarettes, vaping still isn’t cheap for the end user.
In general, a single device can range from $15 to $100. Prices vary depending on design, size, heating apparatus, battery length, and materials used.
The average cost per week for JUUL pods is $20 ($1,008 per year). The average cost per week of e-liquid used on refillable products is $30 ($1,512 per year). For those who vape more heavily, the costs could go even higher, further hurting the financial wellness of the end user.
Are there costs of vaping in the workplace beyond healthcare?
In addition to the financial impact, another cost that might not seem obvious relates to employees in your workplace who don’t vape but have negative feelings toward those who do.
In an EX Program survey on vaping in the workplace, 62% of all respondents reported that vaping in the workplace bothers them, and about the same proportion believe that vaping decreases productivity.
The survey also found about 80% of employees said vape- and smoke-free workplaces are important to them. This means vaping could have a much bigger effect on morale than employers might think.
How the EX Program can help
The EX Program provides e-cigarette users with tailored support to quit through a personalized quit plan for e-cigarettes, content, community support with peers, live chat with EX Coaches, and text messages.
Plus, we offer a robust suite of tools and support to parents of kids who vape to help the entire family reap the benefits of living tobacco-free.
Interested in seeing a demo of how we can engage more of your population in quitting tobacco? Contact us to start a conversation today!