Vaping surges among American teenagers says new report

A latest report finds that United States teenagers are increasingly using e-cigarettes. These electronic cigarettes were initially targeted towards adults who were willing to quit smoking.

Vaping pen, vape devices. Image Credit: Hazem.m.kamal / Shutterstock
Vaping pen, vape devices. Image Credit: Hazem.m.kamal / Shutterstock

The latest survey from the University of Michigan has found that teenagers aged between 17 and 18 years and in their 12 grades were vaping nicotine more than before. The percentage has risen from 11 percent in 2017 to 21 percent this year, they noted. Recently surveys have shown that smoking rates are on the decline among Americans especially teenagers. This report reverse the happy trend say the experts.

The team of surveyors asked the teenagers if they had vaped in the preceding 30 days as part of the Monitoring the Future study. They looked at 45,000 students across the nation and this was one of the largest annually rises in smoking rates over the last four and a half decades. Similar increase was seen in marijuana smoking in the 1970s, explain the experts.

The report adds that vaping rose from 3.5 percent to 6.1 percent among 8th graders and from 8 percent to 16 percent among 10th graders. Among students between grades 9 and 12, there were 1.3 million additional adolescents who used e-cigarettes, write the authors of the report. Hand in hand, marijuana vaping was also on the rise they warned.

Richard Miech, lead author of the review said, “The policies and procedures in place to prevent youth vaping clearly haven't worked… Vaping is reversing hard-fought declines in the number of adolescents who use nicotine... These results suggest that vaping is leading youth into nicotine use and nicotine addiction, not away from it.”

The team of experts noted that alcohol use, marijuana smoking, cocaine and use of other illicit drugs had not changed significantly in this study duration. Binge drinking in fact was significantly low among 12th graders during the period of the survey, they add.

The team adds that the reason behind this rise could be availability of several flavours and discrete USB devices. Another reason could be the absence of socializing among teenagers and more time spent with smartphones and other devices. Experts say that smoking, drinking and experimenting with drugs is usually a group activity while vaping is an individual activity. Mr Miech said, “Factors that make vaping so attractive to youth include its novelty and the easy concealability of the latest vaping devices, which better allows youth to vape without adults knowing about it.”

Dr Nora D Volkow, director of the National Institute on 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.”

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this September the rise in vaping is like an “epidemic” among the teens especially with the flavoured options. E-cigarette makers Juul, last month as a response to the appeals from various authorities and organization, stopped sales of certain flavours attractive to teenagers and children. This is in an effort to stop the use of these e-cigarettes among teenagers. They also stopped their Instagram and Facebook channels to stop teenager involvement with their products. They had doubled their sales to $ 2.31 billion in August 2018 says the CNBC.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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