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Number of teens vaping hits ‘record’ high, survey shows

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Washington — The percentage of teens who reported vaping within the past 12 months has increased dramatically to “record” levels, findings from the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey show.

The latest results from the annual survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan since 1975, include responses from more than 44,000 students from 392 public and private schools. Students were asked about their drug, alcohol and cigarette use, as well as related attitudes.

High school seniors had the sharpest one-year increase, with more than 37 percent reporting vaping within the past 12 months – a jump from nearly 28 percent in 2017. The upswing among high school sophomores (32.3 percent from 23.9 percent) was nearly as great, while eighth-graders (17.6 percent from 13.3 percent) had a smaller increase.

Additionally, the percentage of 12th-graders who reported vaping in their lifetime rose to 42.5 percent from 35.8 percent in 2017.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams officially declared e-cigarette use among youth an “epidemic” during a Dec. 18 press conference. “I don’t use that word lightly,” he said.

High school seniors who reported vaping “just flavoring” increased to 25.7 percent from 20.6 percent in 2017, according to a Dec. 17 press release from the National Institutes of Health. Among 10th-graders, that percentage rose to 24.7 from 19.3. “However, it is unclear if teens know what is in the vaping devices they are using, since the most popular devices do not have nicotine-free options, and some labeling has been shown to be inaccurate,” the release states.

Regarding availability of vaping devices, eighth- and 10th-graders who said they could obtain the devices “fairly easy” or “very easy” increased 7.1 percentage points from 2017. For 12th-graders, that percentage rose to 80.5 from 78.2.

“Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices,” Nora D. Volkow, National Institute on Drug Abuse director, said in the release. “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.”

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