According to the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey, taken January – May, 2022, more than 2.5 million middle and high school students across the country currently use e-cigarettes or vapes. That’s more than 1 in 4 high school students who reported vaping in the past month. Here’s how teen vape use breaks down:
- 14.1% (2.14 million) of high school students and 3.3% (380,000) of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use.
Most current users (nearly 85%) used flavored e-cigarettes, with fruit flavors being the most popular, followed by candy, desserts, or other sweets.
- Among those who currently use e-cigarettes, more than 1 in 4 use them daily.
- More than 4 in 10 youth e-cigarette users report using e-cigarettes at least 20 of the last 30 days.
Both the increased and frequency of use is concerning because vaping is harmful. So, what are the risks? Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can:
- Harm brain development, which continues until about age 25.
Impact learning, memory, and attention.
- Increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.
In addition, Vape and E-cigarette aerosol is NOT harmless. Even though it is marketed this way – directly to young people. As a result, many teens believe that vaping is not harmful, and that it is just water vapor. In fact, this aerosol can contain harmful substances, including:
- Cancer-causing chemicals
- Volatile organic compounds
- Ultrafine particles
- Flavorings that have been linked to lung disease
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead
Physical effects are not the only concern. Many studies have shown a direct correlation between vaping and mental health. Specifically, nicotine which is most vapes, can worsen anxiety symptoms, and amplify feeling of depression.
Current vape users have double the odds of having a diagnosis of depression compared to those who have never vaped, according to a 2019 JAMA study of nearly 30,000 current e-cigarette users.
- Frequent vaping is tied to even higher odds (2.4x) of having a diagnosis of depression compared to never users.
- And, Using e-cigarettes at a higher frequency was associated with higher depressive symptoms — including feeling sad or having crying spells — a year later.
Trace metals found in vape liquid may play a role in the potential link between vaping and depression.
With targeted marketing and advertising geared towards young people offering modern, fun, attractive devices that are brightly colored with many delicious of flavors to choose from – and new products entering the market everyday – it’s likely that this trend will continue. And, vapes are not hard to get. They are all too easy to buy in-stores, on-line, or from friends or peers at school. If we want to prevent this from happening, address the manipulative, deceptive messages and misinformation being directed at our teens, we need be educated and ready to talk about vaping.
If your teen is vaping or has friends who are vaping, and chances are one of these is the case, then conversation is needed. And, it should not be just be a one and done talk. If you are educated and open it will make for a smoother and ongoing dialogue you can hopefully have with your teen.
In our next edition we will pick up here and explore more on teen vaping, including; starting the dialogue, what to look for if you think your teen is vaping, what to do if you know your teen is vaping, and marijuana and vaping, and resources and tools to support you and your teen. Until then, reach out to us if you need support now.
This from our Youth Action Board Teens on vaping:
- Peer pressure plays a big role. If they do it, they think they will be seen as "cool". They feel the need to fit in and not miss out
- A lot of people vape to escape stress.
- If your friends or people you trust are vaping, then it's going to be easier to start vaping. You see them doing it, you trust them so it must not be that bad.
- For me, I saw it spreading in middle school, and it's just accepted in high school.
- Vapes are really easy to get. Straight up you can buy in stores or gas stations without needing ID. We can get them on-lin or from certain people at school. It's word of mouth and you can find out who to go to pretty easy.
- Weed is definitely the next thing people will vape. It's a gateway for sure.
- Kids are always vaping in the bathrooms. It's common to walk in and see multiple people in several stalls and you just know what's going on.