Teens using vaping devices in record numbers

Opioid misuse at record lows with marijuana use remaining stable.

America’s teens report a dramatic increase in their use of vaping devices in just a single year: with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting “any vaping” in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017.

  • high school seniors from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018.
  • More than 1 in 10 eighth graders (10.9 percent)

 Marijuana vaping also increased this year:

  1.  13.1 percent for 12th graders,
  2. up from 9.5 percent last year.

These findings come from the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of a nationally representative sample of eighth, 10th and 12th graders in schools nationwide, funded by a government grant to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Vaping Flavoring:

The percent of 12th graders who say they vaped “just flavoring” in the past year also increased to 25.7 percent in 2018 from 20.6 percent in 2017.

However, it is unclear if teens know what is in the vaping devices they are using, since the most popular devices do not have nicotine-free options, and some labeling has been shown to be inaccurate.

Easy to Get

There was also a significant jump in perceived availability of vaping devices and liquids in eighth and 10th graders, with 45.7 percent and 66.6 percent, respectively, saying the devices are “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.

 

Better News – Decreased Usage:

Tobacco

This year’s survey shows regular tobacco is still at its lowest point in the survey since it began measuring it, with only 3.6 percent of high school seniors smoking daily, compared to 22.4 percent two decades ago.

Smoking tobacco with a hookah is significantly lower than five years ago, at 7.8 percent in the past year among high school seniors, compared to 21.4 percent in 2013.

Opioids

The alarming news about vaping is in sharp contrast to the good news about teenage opioid use. The past year use of narcotics other than heroin (i.e., prescription opioids) is at 3.4 percent among 12th graders—a significant change from 4.2 percent in 2017.

Only 1.7 percent of high school seniors report misuse of Vicodin in the past year, compared to a peak of 10.5 percent 15 years ago. It is also important to note that heroin use in all three grades remains very low with only 0.4 percent of 12th graders reporting past year use.

 

Marijuana and Other Drugs

Close to 1 in 4 high school seniors report use of an illicit drug in the past month, led by marijuana use. Rates of overall marijuana use are steady, with 5.8 percent of 12th graders reporting daily use. Daily use of marijuana has been reported by high school seniors for the past 20 years at somewhere between 5.0 and 6.6 percent.

Past year rates of marijuana use are generally steady among sophomores and seniors, showing as 27.5 percent for 10th graders and 35.9 percent for 12th graders. However, there is a significant five-year drop among eighth graders—from 12.7 percent in 2013 to 10.5 percent in 2018.

There continues to be more 12th graders who report using marijuana every day than smoking cigarettes (5.8 percent vs. 3.6 percent) and only 26.7 percent of 12th graders think regular marijuana use offers great risk of harm.

Other illicit drugs, including cocaine, synthetic cannabinoids, and MDMA remain close to historic lows. Inhalants, the only drug category that is usually higher among younger teens, is reported at 4.6 among eighth graders, compared to a peak of 12.8 percent in 1995.

Alcohol

There is positive news related to teen drinking with just 17.5 percent of 12th graders saying they have been drunk in the past 30 days, down significantly from five years ago, when it was reported at 26 percent.

Reports of binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks) is down significantly among 12th graders, at 13.8 percent—down from 16.6 percent in 2017, and compared to 31.5 percent when the rates peaked in 1998. These findings represent the lowest rates seen for these alcohol measures since the survey began asking the questions.

The MTF survey releases findings the same year the data is collected. It has been conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1975.

 

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