High School Student Vaping Doubles in 2 Years
One in Seven Now Vape, Most Believe There is Little or No Harm
HARTFORD - The State Department of Public Health (DPH) recently released the Youth Tobacco Survey results based on data collection that occurred from March through June 2017. Overall, 14.7% of high school students reported current use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), compared to 7.2% in 2015. The survey found 1 in 10 ninth graders and over 1 in 5 twelfth graders currently use ENDS.
The most prevalent reason given for starting use of these products was a friend or family member used them and over half obtained them from a friend. Fruit, followed by mint or menthol, were the most popular flavors, and more than half used their devices for other substances, such as marijuana, THC or hash oil, or THC wax.
“These results are especially troubling because youth are generally unaware of the presence and level of nicotine in their devices and can become addicted with only a few puffs,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. “Although the cigarette smoking rate continues to decline among this age group, vaping continues to increase. Based on misleading claims about e-cigarettes, many teens believe they are trying a ‘safe’ product.”
According to a 2016 report by the Surgeon General, nicotine poses harm to teen brains, negatively affecting their development with long-term changes. The Food and Drug Administration recently labeled youth e-cigarette use an epidemic and put the manufacturers on notice about potential actions they may take in order to reduce youth access and use.
One popular brand of ENDS, Juul, contains the same amount of nicotine in one ‘pod’ as in a pack of cigarettes, and many teens report that they use one pod each day. These devices are shaped like a USB drive and are easily concealed, and teachers have reported use in the classroom while class is in session.
The survey also found that more than one quarter (27.3%) of high school students live with someone who uses tobacco, and 45% reported exposure to secondhand smoke or ENDS aerosol.
“Preventing the initiation of tobacco use altogether, educating children and young adults on the dangers of ENDS, and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and aerosol are all very important for protecting children’s health,” added Dr. Pino.
Details on the Youth Tobacco Survey are available on the Tobacco Control Program website at ct.gov/dph/tobacco along with more data.