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Vaping Grows Among Teens

December 20, 2018

Cigarettes and other drugs have taken a backseat to vaping as more teens partake in the activity, making it second only to alcohol in substances used, according to a new survey.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded Monitoring the Future survey looked at vaping rates in teens for the second year in 2018, and found a dramatic increase in the number of teens who used the devices -- from 27.8% of 12th-graders to 37.3% who reported “any vaping” in the past 12 months. That includes students who vaped nicotine, marijuana or hash oil, or just flavored vapor.

The survey assessed drug, alcohol and nicotine and tobacco use -- as well as attitudes toward them -- in students in the eighth, 10th and 12th grades in hopes of identifying and responding to unhealthy trends.

“It is important for the public to know these numbers in order to most effectively target prevention efforts to the areas of adolescent substance use where they’re most needed,” Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of NIDA, told ABC News.

“Adolescence is a key time for prevention,” he added. “It is when the majority of people will try substances for the first time and it is also a key developmental period for the brain.”

The increase in vaping rates translates into about 1.3 million more teens vaping within a single year, wrote Dr. Richard Miech, the lead researcher from the University of Michigan who worked on the survey, in The New England Journal of Medicine.

These numbers are concerning because vaping devices can normalize drug-taking behavior and increase a teen’s chances of substance abuse in the future, Compton said.

On a positive note, the use of other substances either remained stable or showed signs of decline, including alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, prescription opioids, heroin, synthetic drugs and more.

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