Use of e-cigarettes almost doubles among United States high school seniors

Faith Castro
December 19, 2018

In the annual Monitoring the Future survey on drug use among adolescents, federally funded researchers reported Monday that more than one in three high school seniors and almost one in three sophomores say they vaped at least once in the past year.

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. "In fact, the investigators pointed out this is the largest increase they've ever seen in a substance product by youth in America", he noted.

The survey also found teenage use of alcohol, prescription painkillers and regular cigarettes has decreased.

The percentage of Class 12 grade students who reported use of nicotine in the past 30 days significantly increased to 28.5 in 2018 from 23.7 in 2017. Fewer high school seniors used other tobacco products, including the once-popular hookah pipes, smokeless tobacco and tiny cigars.

"When we see rates of around 6 percent of high school seniors smoking marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis, that's an bad lot of kids whose memory may be impaired and their brains aren't working at full steam at the exact time when they need to be", Compton said. Even as other forms of tobacco use declined among students, e-cigarettes continuously bucked that trend.

The study covered 44,482 students from 392 public and private schools in the US. "However. far too many young people continue to drink at a time in their lives when their brains and bodies are quite vulnerable to alcohol-related harms". "NIDA director Nora D. Volkow explained, " is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health; the development of the teen brain; and the potential for addiction".

"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.

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

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration, facing mounting pressure to act on the rising popularity of vaping devices, announced sweeping new restrictions on flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

Survey results indicate this could help. More than 1 in 3 seniors previous year vaped-smoked electronic cigarettes-which is 10 times the amount of regular cigarette smoking, according to the Guardian. Many claim they're just vaping e-liquid flavors. "They have less perception of risk from use of marijuana".

Use of other illicit drugs - including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy and hallucinogens - did not change substantially in the past year, according to the survey results. Juul has taken steps to reduce teenage vaping, he said, such as ending the sales of certain flavored pods at retail stores starting last month, strengthening the age verification process on its website and eliminating its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

What about vaping? "Vaping mostly is an individual activity", said David Jernigan, a Boston University researcher who tracks alcohol use. Only 1.7 percent of seniors reported misuse of Vicodin in the past year compared with 10 percent 15 years ago.

Compton said more progress is needed, however. Students are drinking less, with lower rates of binge drinking or being drunk.

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