Thanks to a new survey conducted by the University of Michigan, we now know that vaping is becoming the new drug of choice for teens.
Monitoring The Future is a 44-year-old project that conducts annual surveys of teens and drug/alcohol abuse. According to this year’s study, the use of vaping has nearly doubled from last year and is only second to alcohol in the list of abused drugs.
More than 44,000 eighth, tenth, and twelfth-grade students were surveyed, from nearly 400 public schools. The study showed that 17.6% of eighth graders have vaped in the past year, a spike from last year’s 13.3%. 32.3% of tenth graders partook in the activity compared to 23.9% from last year. While 37.3% of twelfth graders vaped this year surpassing last year’s 27.8%.
Due to the rise in the popularity of vaping, teens are actually turning away from other hard drugs like opioids or even traditional cigarettes.
While that may seem like good news, the harmful effects of vaping aren’t minimized. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Pamela Ling, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco explained.
“While we see declines in cigarette smoking among youth, the increases in vaping may lead to overall rates of tobacco or nicotine use increasing. We also know from many longitudinal studies of youth that those who use e-cigarettes are about three times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.”
So why the dramatic shift? The study focused on three types of vaping; vaping with nicotine, vaping with marijuana, and vaping with just flavoring.
Students reported that their go-to brand of e-cigarette was Juul. This brand is known for a significant amount of nicotine it contains. Because of the aerosol inhaled during vaping, chemicals like nicotine travel directly to the brain, allowing the addiction to become more severe.
However, high school students reported only using flavoring in their e-cigarettes, not realizing that they still contain nicotine. This misinformation, as well as the highly addictive properties of vaping, can be the cause of its growing popularity.
On Tuesday, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams issued an advisory to raise “awareness about what is truly an epidemic.”
In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Adams stated that “We must take aggressive steps to protect our children from these highly potent products that risk exposing a new generation of young people to nicotine.”
Researchers fear that the teen nicotine addiction derived from vaping may lead to possible cigarette consumption later in life.
This is not just an issue for the moment, but rather, a serious issue that can expand and worsen over the years.
Our only hope is for E-Cigarette companies like Juul and even Big Tobacco to change their policies so that 1) teens become more aware of the dangers of vaping and 2) it is less readily available and visually appealing to them.
We hope that next year’s survey shows an incredible decrease in vaping usage, saving the lives of our future generation.