One-in-Five High School Students Vape: CDC Warns

New data has found an increasing trend of teens abusing electronic nicotine devices and other substances following the pandemic.

Two new studies have been released by federal health officials, which indicate that many teens continue to engage in risky behaviors by vaping, which could lead to a lifetime of nicotine addiction and drug abuse.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the findings in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), highlighting several alarming trends that show teenagers are regularly using vaping forms of tobacco, as well as alcohol, marijuana and non-prescribed opioid medications.

Electronic cigarettes were initially marketed as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, manufacturers such as JUUL have taken advantage of the consumer market for such products by designing the vapes to be attractive to teenagers with sleek USB- shaped designs and coming in various candy-like flavors.

Over the last several years, many JUUL e-cigarette lawsuits have blamed the manufacturer for targeting teens and young children, which has resulted in a large number of teens and prior non-smokers starting to vape, and developing addictions to the high levels of nicotine contained in the pods.

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Over A Third of All Teens Try Vape Nicotine Products

According to the results of the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey published on April 28, one in five teens vape on a regular basis, and roughly one-third of teens report having ever tried e-cigarettes.

Researchers analyzed data from 2015 through 2021, focusing on teen vaping habits, including teens who have ever vaped, current users in the past 30 days, and daily users. It also questioned teens about where they got their e-cigarettes from.

The study found that in 2021, 36% of teens reported having ever tried e-cigarettes, 18% of teens said they vaped currently, and 5% of teens reported vaping on a daily basis. More than half of students said they had gotten their vape products from a friend, family member, or someone they knew.

The data indicates more female students reported currently using e-cigarettes or ever having used them compared to male students, while daily use rates and ever use rates were lowest among Asian students. Ever-use and daily use rates were highest among bisexual students than non-bisexual students.

While the overall use of tobacco and smoking products declined from 45% in prior years to 36% in 2021, use among male and female students of Black, Latino, multiracial and white students increased. The increase among white students was the most notable, increasing from 2% to 6.5%.

As the vaping epidemic worsens in the U.S., more teens use e-cigarettes, opting for nicotine use that not only doesn’t help tobacco cigarette users quit smoking but also can lead to a long-term e-cigarettes addiction. The CDC warned the increasing use of vaping products among various ethnicities of teen groups continues despite widely available and highly publicized side effects of vaping.

Teen Drug Use On The Rise

In a separate report published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on April 28, researchers also found teens are regularly engaging in substance abuse, which may be a continuation of habits picked up during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Researchers reviewed data from the Youth Risk behavior Study and assessed changes in substance use from 2019 to 2021, and found nearly 30% of teens reported using alcohol, marijuana, or misusing prescription opioids within the past 30 days. Overall, more than one-third of teens reported using two or more substances within the past 30 days

The report also raised concerns that teens were found to begin using inhalants more during the pandemic, which are a category of household products, often cleaners, which are breathed in to produce a high. Researchers indicated that the reduced access to drugs or alcohol may have contributed to teens searching for alternative substances to abuse such as oven cleaner, glue, paint thinner, and nail polish removers to use as inhalants.

The findings of the two studies are the first to show trends among teen substance abuse habits during the pandemic, and show the imminent need for further surveillance of teen tobacco, vaping, and substance use to understand teen product usage.

Additionally, researchers involved in both studies indicated that these findings should be used to help create strategies, prevention programs, and other practices to help reduce teen substance use, reduce risk factors, and help implement protective practices for teens.


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