January 19, 2019

Nicotine vaping on rise among U.S. teenagers

19 December 2018, 09:25 | Rodolfo Wallace

View Slideshow A survey finds 1 in 5 high school seniors was vaping nicotine in 2018. VOISIN Getty Images

A survey finds 1 in 5 high school seniors was vaping nicotine in 2018

A new survey warns that teenage use of vaping devices has increased substantially in a single year.

The annual Monitoring the Future survey, by a team of researchers at the University of MI, showed that the increases in adolescent vaping from 2017 to 2018 have been the highest ever in the past 43 years for any substance use in the US. This year, 44,482 students from 392 public and private schools participated in the survey.

This year's findings are based on responses from about 45,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12 in schools across the country. Last year, the annual survey found that prevalence of vaping was 13.3% among eighth-graders, 23.9% among 10th-graders and 27.8% among 12th-graders.

E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are battery-operated devices that heat nicotine-laced liquid to generate an aerosol that users inhale.

"What is it that we're doing right with teenagers that we're not doing with adults?" said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency that funds the MI study.

The percent of 12th-graders who said they only vaped flavoring in the past year increased to 25.7 percent in 2018, up from 20.6 percent in 2017. Even as other forms of tobacco use declined among students, e-cigarettes continuously bucked that trend.

"Across all the different measures of use of these new products by youth in America, we see increases", Compton said.

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The percentage of high school seniors who say they vaped nicotine in the past 30 days almost doubled this year, a dramatic increase that federal officials want to curb with new rules and restrictions.

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.

The survey also asked about vaping of liquids that contained "just flavoring", to track students who may have consumed nicotine without realizing it.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has described teen vaping an "epidemic". Fewer high school seniors used other tobacco products, including the once-popular hookah pipes, smokeless tobacco and tiny cigars. For starters, nicotine is harmful to brain development. 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.

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.

Vaping involves the use of electronic cigarettes. Regulators will need to pay close attention to the fast-changing market and be ready to modify their policies if necessary, they said.

Prescription opioid use (such as OxyContin or Vicodin) has declined to about 3 percent among 12th graders.

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