The percentage of teens who reported vaping nicotine in the past 30 days continued to rise in 2019, according to preliminary data published Wednesday.
The data originate from the annual Monitoring the Future survey, which is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Each year, researchers survey a nationally representative sample of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students. The 2019 survey included 42,531 students, of which about one-third randomly received questions on nicotine vaping.
The researchers typically publish the survey results in December, but the Post reports that Richard Miech, lead researcher and a professor at University of Michigan, wanted to share the nicotine vaping trends early—especially as more state and federal officials examine policies to keep teens from using e-cigarettes. They shared those findings in a letter to the editor published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Overall, the researchers found the percentage of youth who reported vaping a nicotine product in the past 30 days continued to climb across each of the grade levels examined.
According to the researchers, 12th-graders had the highest 30-day use rates, with 25.4% of high school seniors reporting having vaped in the past 30 days in 2019, up from 20.9% in 2018. Meanwhile, 30-day vaping rates among 10th-graders reached 20.2% in 2019, up from 16.1% in 2018, and rates among 8th-graders rose from 6.1% in 2018 to 9% in 2019.
This year marked the first time researchers asked students about their daily nicotine vaping habits, which they defined as using e-cigarettes on at least 20 of the past 30 days.
The researchers found the percentage of students who reported vaping daily was 11.7% among 12th graders, 6.9% among 10th graders, and 1.9% among 8th graders. The researchers wrote that those rates are alarming, as the frequency of use suggests teens may have developed a nicotine addiction.
The authors noted that nicotine vaping rates have been climbing since 2017, and the current data suggest they are not slowing down.
The authors also noted that total vaping rates—including flavored and non-nicotine products—are likely much higher.
"It ranks among the top in terms of the increases we've seen," Miech said. "It seems as if teen nicotine vaping is not going away by itself. Something needs to be done."
The authors wrote that industry stakeholders and policymakers need to take new steps "to protect youth from using nicotine during adolescence, when the developing brain is particularly susceptible to permanent changes from nicotine use and when almost all nicotine addiction is established" (Knowles, Washington Post, 9/18; Emery, Reuters, 9/18; Kaplan, New York Times, 9/19; Hellman, The Hill, 9/18).
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