Vaping More Popular Than Ever Among US Teens

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The percentage of U.S. 12-graders who report using vaping devices in 2018 is up by more than a third compared to 2017. According to the latest annual “Monitoring the Future” report, 37.3% of high school seniors have used a vaping device in the past 12 months, up from 27.8% in 2017.

The report, based on a survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, also revealed that the number of high school seniors who used a vaping device in the previous 30 days nearly doubled year over year from 11.0% in 2017 to 20.9% this year. Nearly 11% of 8th graders report that they vaped in the past 12 months.

Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, said:

Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices; however, it is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health; the development of the teen brain; and the potential for addiction. Research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes, so while we have celebrated our success in lowering their rates of tobacco use in recent years, we must continue aggressive educational efforts on all products containing nicotine.

While many 12th graders say they just vaped flavorings this year, it is unknown whether they know what is in the devices they are using. According to NIDA, most popular devices do not have nicotine-free options, and some of the labeling on the devices and the flavorings are inaccurate.

In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that most flavored e-cigarette liquids would be banned from stores unless they have strict age-verification rules. The FDA is currently weighing a ban on menthol cigarettes.

There’s also some good news on teen drug use in this year’s report. Teen tobacco use is at its lowest point in the survey’s history, with only 3.6% of high school seniors admitting that they smoke daily. That’s down from 22.4% reported 20 years ago.

Even better news comes from reports of opioid drug use. In the past year, use of narcotic drugs other than heroin dropped from 4.2% in 2017 to 3.4% in 2018, and just 1.7% of seniors report misuse of Vicodin, down from 10.5% in the past 15 years.

Reports of marijuana use have been relatively constant over the past 20 years at between 5.0% and 6.6%. Among 10th graders, some 27.5% report using marijuana during the past year, while 35.9% of seniors report marijuana use. Among 8th graders, marijuana use has dropped from 12.7% to 10.5% over the past five years.

Alcohol abuse is also down. Some 17.5% of seniors say that they have been drunk in the past 30 days, down from 26.0% five years ago. Binge drinking (defined as five or more drinks in the past two weeks) fell from 16.6% last year to 13.8% and from 31.5% at its peak in 1998.

The announcement and links to the data are available at the National Institute of Drug Abuse website.