New Survey Shows Rise of Nicotine Vaping Among US Teenagers

Vaping among teens on the rise, according to study

"These results indicate that the policies in place as of the 2017-2018 school year were not sufficient to stop the spread of nicotine vaping among adolescents", the team led by Richard Miech of the University of MI wrote in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, released along with the report.

The Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted by the University of MI, finds that one in five high school seniors said they'd vaped within the past month. A similar, though less drastic, increase in cannabis vaping was also observed; the numbers increased from 9.5-percent among 12th graders in 2017 to 13.1-percent in 2018.

This marks the largest annual increase in the 44-year history of the Monitoring the Future Survey, which takes a closer look at substance abuse among nationwide teenagers.

Vaping use is also seen among younger teens, with the MTF survey likewise finding that more than one of every 10 8th graders reported vaping nicotine liquid in the past 12 months.

Erika Edwards
Erika Edwards is the medical news producer and reporter for NBC News Channel based in Charlotte
Erika Edwards Erika Edwards is the medical news producer and reporter for NBC News Channel based in Charlotte

She added that the difficulty youths face in accessing opioid drugs could explain this stark difference in use between teenagers and young adults.

"What we are seeing is a change in the patterns of drug taking among teenagers in that they are the lowest that we've seen for many years", said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the report. "So we're not so sure that when they say they're just using flavorings that they really know what's in them", Compton said. Researchers in the United Kingdom have also found that as more adults smoke e-cigarettes, fewer adults are smoking cigarettes, the Guardian reported.

The overall increase in vaping in the survey appears to be consistent with data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing a 78% increase in youth vaping between 2017 and 2018, said Dr. Pamela Ling, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who works with the school's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and was not involved with the new report.

The Food and Drug Administration has declared vaping to be an epidemic.

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Other e-liquid flavors seemed to be squarely aimed at kids, with packages that resembled frosted cookies and sour sweets.

"I think numerous campaigns that are trying to make it harder to get access to prescription opioids have had an effect", Volkow said. Therefore the ban on nicotine doses over 20mg/ml, is putting a stumbling block in that first step of a smoker's journey to a smoke free life. Unfortunately, glorifying the use of their products contributes to an increase use of vaping among youth.

The 2014 edition of the Monitoring the Future study was the first to report that vaping had replaced smoking as the most popular way for teens to consume tobacco.

"One of the biggest risks that we do know is that when kids start with vaping, they are more likely to make the transition to combustible, to smoked cigarettes".

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Alcohol use also has declined. It found 1 in 5 high school seniors reported having vaped nicotine in the previous month. "We will be focusing much of our new prevention research on the period of time when teens transition out of school into the adult world and become exposed to the unsafe use of these drugs".

The percentage of 8th-grade students vaping in the past 30 days increased too - from 3.5 percent to 6.1 percent. While the devices are believed by many to be safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes, they are far from harmless.

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