A recent study across the US has found that more teenagers are trying vaping than cigarettes. While this is great news for those of us who are passionate about keeping kids and teens away from the addictive and damaging qualities of cigarettes, the media in the US is – of course – painting this as a huge concern.
The new nationally representative Monitoring the Future study showed that 35.8% of students in their final year of high school had tried vaping, versus 26.6% who had ever smoked a cigarette. This has surprised researchers and demonstrated how mainstream vaping has become.
The Monitoring the Future study is conducted annually with tens of thousands of students participating. This is the 43rd year the study has been conducted. It is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“These findings emphasize that vaping has progressed well beyond a cigarette alternative,” said Richard Miech, the principal investigator on the survey. In contrast, just 4% of students regularly smoke on a daily basis, a figure well down from 1997’s 24%. This was also the first year the survey discussed vaping marijuana. The study asked teens what they were vaping – nicotine, marijuana, or flavoring. One in four 12th graders had vaped nicotine, and 11.9% had vaped marijuana. The researchers believe the high number who claimed to have only vaped flavoring actually didn’t understand that many e-juices contain nicotine.
Erica Sward, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association, is using the vaping responses in the survey to call for the FDA to take aggressive action to regulate e-cigarettes. She is upset that the five year delay, “really locks in all of the products that are currently on the market that have flavorings and appeal to children.”
Same story, different day
It seems like – despite highly positive results are the significant reduction in teens trying or becoming addicted to cigarettes – the media are still using every opportunity to paint vaping in a negative light.
The assumption that teens don’t know that some e-liquids contain nicotine I think it particularly flawed. Have you met teens today? They know more about drug culture and nicotine than the rest of us! I find it unlikely that the number who “don’t know what they’re inhaling” is as high as the researchers claim, and since non-nicotine e-juices are readily available, it’s just as easy to make the assumption that teens are vaping these instead.
The truth is, no one wants teens to be taking any kind of substance that could cause health issues or mess with their minds or future prospects. For years, the teen substance of choice has been cigarettes. That seems to be changing, and I for one think that is a huge win. If vaping has been a part of bringing about that change, then I’m cheering.
If you're a parent concerned about your teen, read our article on talking to your teens about vaping. It might also be worthwhile checking out the research on how vaping is helping more people quit smoking.