Drugs & Health Blog

Survey Results Sending Smoke Signals That Teens Are Vaping at Increasing Rates

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The NIDA Blog Team

Update (Sept. 2019): Reports of Deaths Related to Vaping

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has alerted the public to hundreds of reports of serious lung illnesses associated with vaping, including several deaths. They are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the cause of these illnesses. Many of the suspect products tested by the states or federal health officials have been identified as vaping products containing THC, the main psychotropic ingredient in marijuana (in other words, the ingredient that causes the high). Some of the patients reported vaping a mixture of THC and nicotine; some reported vaping nicotine alone. No one substance has been identified in all of the samples tested, and it is unclear if the illnesses are related to one single compound. Until more details are known, FDA officials have warned people not to use any vaping products bought on the street, and they warn against modifying any products purchased in stores. They are also asking people and health professionals to report any negative effects. The CDC has posted an information page for consumers.


The results are in for the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey.  The annual survey measures drug and alcohol use of more than 44,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from across the country. It also measures attitudes and trends. This year, teens reported a dramatic increase in using vaping devices like JUUL (also called e-cigarettes), in just a single year.

Over 37.3 percent of 12th graders reported “any vaping” in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017.  Seniors who reported use of vaping specifically nicotine nearly doubled, too.  Both 8th and 10th graders also reported an increase in use in the last year, which translates into a total of about 1.3 million more teens who vaped in 2018.

“Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices,” says NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. “However, it is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health.”

With tempting flavors and attractive devices, there are a number of reasons why teens may not connect vaping with tobacco or nicotine, and don’t realize there could be harmful health consequences:

  • Flavoring might cover up the taste of nicotine.
  • Vaping liquid vials are not always labeled correctly.
  • Many teens use devices bought by other people. 

It's also important to note that some of the popular devices on the market, including the one called JUUL, don’t offer vaping liquid without nicotine. 

Maybe you’ve seen an increase in classmates vaping? In this video, Dr. Volkow further explores why teens may be attracted to vapingand what they're vaping.

Click here to see the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey infographic.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.

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