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The number of teenagers who vape is growing at an alarming rate

A survey of 44,482 students from 392 public and private schools has revealed that American teenagers are using vaping devices in record numbers. According to the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, more than 37 percent of high school seniors vaped at some point in the past year, which jumped from 28 percent in 2017.

The research team found that vaping nicotine in the 30 days prior to the survey nearly doubled among 12th graders, increasing from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018. The number of seniors who reported vaping “just flavoring” in the past year also increased from 20.6 to 25.7 percent.

However, teens may not be entirely sure what is in the vaping devices they are using, especially considering that the most popular devices do not have nicotine-free options. In addition, some inaccurate labeling has been found.

Among eighth graders, 10.9 percent say they vaped nicotine in the past year. Overall, use of vaping has increased significantly in virtually all measures among eighth, 10th and 12th graders. For 12th graders, reports of marijuana vaping are also up, jumping from 9.5 percent last year to 13.1 percent.

Dr. Nora D. Volkow is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices; 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,” said Dr. Volkow.

“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.”

The MTF survey is published in this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. In a letter to the editor, Dr. Richard Miech pointed out that the increase in nicotine vaping found in the study is the equivalent of around 1.3 million additional teenagers vaping in 2018.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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