Medicine

More US Teens Are Vaping, But Use of Opioids, Alcohol Falls

More US Teens Are Vaping, But Use of Opioids, Alcohol Falls

A new survey warns that teenage use of vaping devices has increased substantially in a single year.

The percentage of U.S. high school senior students using e-cigarettes almost doubled from 2017, according to a new survey released Monday by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. "However. far too many young people continue to drink at a time in their lives when their brains and bodies are quite vulnerable to alcohol-related harms".

The trend has trickled down to middle schoolers, with 10.9 percent of eighth-graders saying they've also used e-cigarettes in the past year.

The combined jumps in vaping by 10th- and 12th-graders was a record-setter for the survey, which has been underway since 1975.

Health officials are concerned about the rise in teen vaping for a number of reasons.

More than 10.9 percent of 10th graders said they used e-cigarettes in the past year, the survey said. Under it, officials plan to distribute anti-vaping materials to high schools, such as posters that will be put in public school bathrooms. Many claim they're just vaping e-liquid flavors.

The findings mirror the latest results from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which also found a dramatic increase in vaping.

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Use of other illicit drugs among teens was flat or declined. Teenage opioid use is also decreasing: 3.4 percent of seniors reported using prescription opioids in 2018, down from 4.2 percent in 2017 - and significantly lower than its peak of 9.5 percent in 2004. Researchers have found that high-school students who vape are much more likely to become cigarette smokers than their classmates who don't vape. The most popular e-cigarettes do not have nicotine-free options.

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration, facing mounting pressure to act on the rising popularity of vaping devices, announced sweeping new restrictions on flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

"We know that nicotine affects brain development", said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California-San Francisco who was not involved in this study.

But Muench argued that, given how opinions on marijuana have shifted, it could actually be a good sign that use has remained steady among teenagers.

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. Regulators will need to pay close attention to the fast-changing market and be ready to modify their policies if necessary, they said. Usage of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin and opioid pills all declined.

Fewer teens report binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row).