There is some good news and some bad news on the issue of teen vaping.
Let’s start with the bad.
Vaping was originally marketed as a way to help adults who were addicted to nicotine wean themselves off of cigarettes. It was generally viewed as a less unhealthy alternative to cigarette smoking.
Vaping is strongly associated with later cigarette use
Vaping among pre-teens and teens hit the national radar when teen vaping rates began to skyrocket. Flavored vape pens appealed to kids because of their taste and the ease with which teens were able to hide their use. Teens began vaping in huge numbers. In 2019 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 27.5% of high school students had reported using an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days, up from 20.8% in 2018.
Once it became evident that vaping was reaching epidemic proportions among teens, many states decided to ban the flavors that appealed to youngsters.
A new 4 year study and published in the Journal of Pediatrics was tasked with identifying the predictors of becoming a daily cigarette smoker.
The study concluded that:
Trying e-cigarettes and multiple other tobacco products before age 18 years is strongly associated with later daily cigarette smoking. The recent large increase in e-cigarette use will likely reverse the decline in cigarette smoking among US young adults…youth who use electronic cigarettes (versus never users) are at a threefold higher risk of later daily cigarette smoking. Other predictors include tobacco use before age 18 years and the number of tobacco products tried.journal of pediatrics
So the decrease in cigarette smoking that has occurred over the last 50 years, which was a huge public health win, may be in danger of being reversed thanks to the popularity of vaping among teens.
Vaping rates among teens have plunged during Covid
And now some better news: Perhaps the message about vaping has gotten out or perhaps Covid has helped to either cut teens off from vaping products or has convinced them that their lung health is important.
A new study published in JAMA Network Online asked: How has nicotine vaping prevalence trended among US adolescents from 2017 to 2020?
The study found that increases in teenage vaping from 2017 to 2019 halted in 2020. Youth vaping rates plunged during the COVID-19 lockdown. A full thirty-five percent of teen and young adult e-cigarette users said they reduced their use of the products or stopped using them altogether (32%).
Concerns about lung health were cited as the key factor for 1 in 4 respondents who said they either cut back or quit. Although, the study cautions that even with this decline “Adolescent nicotine vaping remains highly prevalent.”
More to Read: