Drugs & Health Blog

Survey Sends Smoke Signals: Teens Are Vaping at Increasing Rates

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The NIDA Blog Team

Update (November 2019): Reports of Deaths Related to Vaping

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has alerted the public to thousands of reports of serious lung illnesses associated with vaping, including dozens of deaths. They’re 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 (mind-altering) ingredient in marijuana. Some of the patients reported vaping a mixture of THC and nicotine; and some reported vaping nicotine alone. (For more details, read this blog post.) While the CDC and FDA continue to investigate possible other contributing substances, CDC has identified a thickening agent—Vitamin E acetate—as a chemical of concern among people with e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injuries. They recommend that people should not use any product containing Vitamin E acetate, or any vaping products containing THC; particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person and online dealers. They also warn against modifying any products purchased in stores, or using any vaping products bought on the street. The FDA is asking people, including health professionals, to report any adverse (negative) effects of vaping products. The CDC has posted an information page for consumers.

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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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