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A Quarter Of U.S. High School Students Vaped In 2019, CDC Study Warns

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According to a new survey by government health officials, more than one in four high school students admit they are current users of e-cigarettes, highlighting the teen vaping epidemic in the United States, amid growing concerns about severe and life-threatening lung injuries linked to vaping, which have now been reported in all 50 states.

Vaping is far and away the most popular form of tobacco use among high school and middle school students, according to the findings of a youth survey published last week in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which included data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The annual school-based survey of U.S. middle and high school students focused on all forms of tobacco use, and has been given to the nation’w youth since 1999. This is the first questionnaire to be administered using electronic data collection, and included more than 19,000 questionnaires completed, representing 27 million students.

Overall, one-third of high school students, and 1 in 8 middle school students indicate that they are current tobacco users. More than 6 million middle and high school students currently use some type of tobacco product, including both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and more than half of high school students and one-quarter of middle school students indicate they’ve tried some type of tobacco products, including vapes, cigarettes, cigars, hookah and other tobacco products.

E-cigarettes were the most popular form of tobacco use for the sixth year in a row, as other surveys have also shown.

One-quarter of high school students said they commonly use e-cigarettes, while about 11% of middle school students admitted to commonly vaping. Using e-cigarettes during adolescence quadruples the risk of becoming a smoker as an adult, according to other studies.

Nearly one-third of students admitted to being current users of any type of tobacco product within the past 30 days, including cigarettes, vapes, cigars or other items. For middle schoolers, about 13% admitted to this.

When using flavored tobacco products, nearly 70% of students admitted to vaping as their preferred method of use. When asked why they tried vaping, the most common answer was that they were curious, with more than half of students reported curiosity as their motivation. Additionally, students said they saw a family or friend using the product and about one-quarter said they tried vaping because it tasted like candy, fruit, mint, or chocolate.

Research has shown over and over, teens are more likely to vape if the products have candy-like flavors.

Nearly 30% of students said vaping posed little to no harm to them. Similarly, about 16% said there was little to no harm in using a hookah.

About 25% of students reported having cravings for tobacco products and 14% reported craving a tobacco product, like a vape, within 30 minutes of waking. While nearly 60% of students said they were seriously thinking about quitting using tobacco. However, some research suggests quitting e-cigarettes can be harder than quitting traditional cigarettes, especially for teens who form their habits early in life.

More than 85% of students said they commonly saw ads, from any source, for tobacco products. This is especially concerning as research has shown kids who are receptive to e-cigarette ads are more likely to try traditional smoking.

Vaping Lung Injuries

Concerns about the widespread use of e-cigarettes among teens has increased over the past year, as more than 2,000 cases of vaping respiratory illness have been reported across the country, including at least 50 deaths.

Last week, Alaskan health officials  announced that a teen from Southeast Alaska was sickened and hospitalized with the first case of vaping-related lung injury in that state, meaning there are now lung injury cases related to vaping reported in all 50 states of the U.S.

The survey comes as the country faces the likelihood of an entire generation of teens addicted to JUUL, the most popular brand of vaping products, which contains high levels of nicotine and were aggressively marketed to individuals who were not prior cigarette smokers.

A growing number of JUUL injury lawsuits are now being pursued against the manufacturers, alleging that the products were illegally marketed to kids while failing to disclose that each of the e-cigarette pods contain more nicotine than a pack of tobacco cigarettes.

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