The annual survey, which also measures use of other substances including marijuana, alcohol and opioids, questioned more than 44,000 students from eighth, 10th and 12th grades in USA public and private schools. No matter how nicotine is delivered, it is harmful for youth and young adults.
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.
Vaping rates also increased by about one-third in younger teens, with about 18 percent of 8th graders and 32 percent of 10th graders reporting they'd tried e-cigarettes in 2018.
Several studies have shown that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to also smoke what's now called combustible tobacco - old-fashioned cigarettes.
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. When both categories of vaping were combined, the researchers found that 25 percent of high-school seniors, 20.3 percent of sophomores and 9.7 percent of eighth-graders used e-cigarettes in 2018. That voluntary action came days before the Food and Drug Administration proposed industrywide restrictions on online and convenience store sales of e-cigarettes to deter use by kids. Regulators will need to pay close attention to the fast-changing market and be ready to modify their policies if necessary, they said.
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. "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 risky use of these drugs". "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. For the past two decades, daily use among high school seniors has hovered between 5 and 6.6 percent. The most popular e-cigarettes do not have nicotine-free options. "We know the dangers from smoked, combustible tobacco", Compton said. Usage of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin and opioid pills all declined.
"Research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes", says Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of NIDA, in a statement.
Around 45.7 percent of eighth graders and 66.6 percent of 10th graders said the vaping devices are "fairly easy" or "very easy" to get, the survey said.
Another disturbing finding in the new survey is that more teens say they are inhaling "just flavoring" when they vape, increasing fears many adolescents don't realize they are inhaling high levels of nicotine. "We are very concerned about the increase in vaping". While the devices are believed by many to be safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes, they are far from harmless.