USA surgeon general warns of teen risks from e-cigarettes

More U.S. Teens Are Vaping but Use of Opioids Alcohol Falling

The proportion of high school seniors who reported vaping nicotine in the last month rose to 20.9 percent in 2018, a almost 10-percentage-point increase from 11 percent in 2017, according to results released Monday.

Researchers at the University of MI in Ann Arbor, who conducted the annual survey, asked 44,482 students from 392 private and public schools across the country about their use of tobacco, opioids, marijuana and alcohol. A similar, though less drastic, increase in cannabis vaping was also observed; the numbers increased from 9.5-percent among 12th graders in 2017 to 13.1-percent in 2018.

In fact, it was the biggest one-year spike of any kind in the 44 years the Monitoring the Future survey has been tracking substance abuse by young people.

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. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

"What is it that we're doing right with teenagers that we're not doing with adults?" said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency that funds the MI study. "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", she said.

The percent of 12th-graders who said they only vaped flavoring in the past year increased to 25.7 percent in 2018, up from 20.6 percent in 2017. The MTF survey has been tracking substance use among teenagers since 1975.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered online retailers to stop selling such products in September as part of a broad initiative to reduce teen vaping.

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There's yet more disturbing news about kids vaping nicotine. Analysts now estimate the company controls more than 75 percent of the USA e-cigarette market. Unfortunately, glorifying the use of their products contributes to an increase use of vaping among youth.

"When we see rates of around 6 percent of high school seniors smoking marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis, that's an bad lot of kids whose memory may be impaired and their brains aren't working at full steam at the exact time when they need to be", Compton said. But Compton said students may not really be checking. And there is a growing body of evidence that these are not simply kids who are vaping instead of smoking.

Experts worry that the high nicotine content of vape products may be addicting a new generation of tobacco users.

"We are encouraged to see continued declines in a variety of measures of underage alcohol use", says George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The survey showed that factors that make vaping so attractive to youth include its novelty and the easy concealability of the latest vaping devices, which better allows youth to vape without adults knowing about it. Rates of opioid, cocaine and other illicit drug use have also decreased significantly. "Right now the number is more like 1.7 percent".

The survey found 36 percent of seniors used marijuana at least sometimes, and close to 6 percent said they used it daily.

"Even parents have a tolerance to alcohol, and in many instances, they maybe even provide the alcohol for parties that they are holding in their house, with the sense that, what harm is there to let teenagers drink when they are home?" Fewer teens reported binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row).

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