America’s teens report a dramatic increase in their use of vaping devices in just a single year, with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting “any vaping” in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017. These findings come from the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of a nationally representative sample of eighth, 10th and 12th graders in schools nationwide, funded by a government grant to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The annual results were announced today by the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, along with the scientists who lead the research team.
Reported use of vaping nicotine specifically in the 30 days prior to the survey nearly doubled among high school seniors from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018. More than 1 in 10 eighth graders (10.9 percent) say they vaped nicotine in the past year, and use is up significantly in virtually all vaping measures among eighth, 10th and 12th graders. Reports of past year marijuana vaping also increased this year, at 13.1 percent for 12th graders, up from 9.5 percent last year.
“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 Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA. “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 percent of 12th graders who say they vaped “just flavoring” in the past year also increased to 25.7 percent in 2018 from 20.6 percent in 2017. However, it is unclear if teens know what is in the vaping devices they are using, since the most popular devices do not have nicotine-free options, and some labeling has been shown to be inaccurate. There was also a significant jump in perceived availability of vaping devices and liquids in eighth and 10th graders, with 45.7 percent and 66.6 percent, respectively, saying the devices are “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.
There is more information on the survey’s vaping findings in this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. In a letter to the editor (link is external) written by Dr. Richard Miech, the MTF study team lead. Dr. Miech points out that the one-year increases in the prevalence of nicotine vaping translate into approximately 1.3 million additional adolescents who vaped in 2018, as compared with 2017. The increase in vaping rates between 2017-2018 also aligns with the recently released CDC/FDA government funded National Youth Tobacco Survey