As local and federal legislators contemplate cracking down on e-cigarette flavors, a new study confirms what many have already observed: Teens are vaping at alarming rates. According to the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) report, 37.3-percent of high school-aged teenagers reported having vaped at some point over the last year, this compared to 27.8-percent from last year's survey. This year, 44,482 students from 392 public and private schools participated in the survey.
The annual survey, which also measures use of other substances including marijuana, alcohol and opioids, questioned more than 44,000 students from eighth, 10th and 12th grades in USA public and private schools.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes use a battery to heat a liquid that is inhaled in an aerosol form.
"It is very worrisome", says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the survey. About 1 in 4 students said they'd used marijuana at least once in the past year.
"We do know that these newer products, such as Juul, can promote dependence in just a few uses", Adams said.
The percentage of high school seniors who say they vaped nicotine in the past 30 days almost doubled this year, a dramatic increase that federal officials want to curb with new rules and restrictions.
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"Vaping is reversing hard-fought declines in the number of adolescents who use nicotine", said lead author Richard Miech, from the university's Institute for Social Research. That survey also found a dramatic rise in vaping among children and prompted federal regulators to press for measures that make it harder for kids to get them. For the past two decades, daily use among high school seniors has hovered between 5 and 6.6 percent. The MTF survey has been tracking substance use among teenagers since 1975. Therefore the ban on nicotine doses over 20mg/ml, is putting a stumbling block in that first step of a smoker's journey to a smoke free life.
The government's top doctor is taking aim at the best-selling electronic cigarette brand in the US, urging swift action to prevent Juul and similar vaping brands from addicting millions of teenagers.
California state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), lead author of the state bills, said his proposals would curb the "epidemic proportion" of vaping among teens. Among 10th-graders, it jumped from 8.2 percent in 2017 to 16.1 percent in 2018, and among eighth-graders it rose from 3.5 percent last year to 6.1 percent this year.
Alcohol use and binge drinking also continue to decline among teens, according to the survey. The liquids come in kid-friendly flavors - from watermelon to the more exotic "unicorn puke" - that release fruity and sweet vapors, making e-cigs easier to disguise than traditional cigarettes.
Compton said more progress is needed, however.