Despite some promising signs that traditional tobacco cigarette use is decreasing among teenagers, unacceptably high numbers of youth are vaping nicotine. NIDA’s 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th graders show alarmingly high rates of e-cigarette use compared to just a year ago.
Reported past month nicotine vaping among teens in 2019:
1 in 10 8th graders
1 in 5 10th graders
1 in 4 12th graders
It is important for teens to know that most health concerns related to traditional tobacco cigarettes—addiction, lung disease, and effects on prenatal development—apply to vaping as well.
The most popular e-cigarette devices among young people resemble flash drives. Parents and teachers are often unaware their teens are using these devices because they are so small and don’t leave behind a strong smell, like tobacco cigarettes.
We must be vigilant about educating teens on the health effects of tobacco and nicotine in all forms. Some research suggests that teens using e-cigarettes are likely to start smoking tobacco within the following year, since nicotine in vaping devices is highly addictive. In addition, there have been reports of serious lung illnesses and dozens of deaths from vaping. Most of the vaping products contained THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes the high, but some contained only nicotine. The illnesses could possibly be related to oil some manufacturers have added to the vaping liquid.
Manufacturers have added mint and other flavors to vaping pods, which have become popular among teens. However, the largest device manufacturer, JUUL, recently announced it would no longer sell mint-flavored pods in the U.S. This is in response to NIDA-funded research showing the popularity of that flavor among teens, and criticism from public health experts that it was marketing its products to teens.