New Survey Shows Rise of Nicotine Vaping Among US Teenagers

Henrietta Brewer
December 19, 2018

As local and federal legislators contemplate cracking down on e-cigarette flavors, a new study confirms what many have already observed: Teens are vaping at alarming rates.

The percentage of high school seniors who used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days almost doubled to 20.9 percent from previous year, results of a survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed on Monday. Health officials say nicotine is harmful to developing brains.

According to a new survey, the number of high school students that use nicotine-tinged electronic cigarettes nearly doubled in 2018 in comparison with 2017.

The annual survey, which also measures use of other substances including marijuana, alcohol and opioids, questioned more than 44,000 students from eighth, 10th and 12th grades in US public and private schools.

The figures are based on a nationwide survey of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders who participated in the Monitoring the Future study, which has tracked teen use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and other substances every year since 1975.

Though teenage use of traditional tobacco cigarettes has been declining, public health officials warn that increased use of vaping devices may bring its own ramifications. Early exposure to nicotine can alter the development of young brains, making teens more vulnerable to addiction throughout their lives, Compton said.

They found that the use of traditional cigarettes is still at a record low, with 3.6 percent of high school seniors smoking daily, compared with 22.4 percent two decades ago. Many claim they're just vaping e-liquid flavors. Even as other forms of tobacco use declined among students, e-cigarettes continuously bucked that trend.

Research also has shown that teens who vape are more likely to take up cigarette smoking, he added.

They do have about as much nicotine as a full pack of old school smokes, however.

But Muench argued that, given how opinions on marijuana have shifted, it could actually be a good sign that use has remained steady among teenagers.

"If we want to prevent youth from using drugs, including nicotine, vaping will warrant special attention in terms of policy, education campaigns, and prevention programs in the coming years", Miech suggested. "Because it may contain nicotine and mimics the act of smoking, the electronic cigarette, falls in this Directive".

Compton said more progress is needed, however.

Use of prescription opioids and tranquilisers also declined in 2018.

Amongst other things, the Committee proposed reviewing provisions in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations, to include HnBs in the Government's annual review of safer nicotine products, and also reassess the evidence supporting the ban on snus.

Fewer teens report binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row).

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