Alarming spike in teen vaping; 37% of high school seniors say they vaped in past 12 months

The number of teenagers using electronic cigarettes has hit an all-time high, with one in every five high school seniors reporting they vaped in the past month.

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That's according to a new survey released Monday from the National Institutes of Health, which reported 37.3 percent of high school seniors reported vaping in the past 12 months.

That’s the single largest increase since the annual study first started 44 years ago.

The 2018 Monitoring the Future survey looked at the substance abuse habits of 45,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders.

In the 30 days before the survey, reported use of vaping nicotine doubled among high school seniors from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018. More than 1 in 10 eighth graders or 10.9 percent said they vaped nicotine in the past year, according to the study.

"Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices; however, it is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health; the development of the teen brain; and the potential for addiction," the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora D. Volkow said in a statement on the survey.

“Research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes, so while we have celebrated our success in lowering their rates of tobacco use in recent years, we must continue aggressive educational efforts on all products containing nicotine,” Volkow said.

The one-year increases in vaping among teenagers translates into nearly 1.3 million additional teens who vaped in 2018, according to study team leader Dr. Richard Miech.

Vaping marijuana also increased among seniors, from 9.5 percent last year to 13.1 percent this year.

All other substance abuse among teenagers is down, except for marijuana use, which remained steady with 5.8 percent of 12th graders reporting they use pot daily, the survey reported.

The use of opioids, heroin, ecstasy, alcohol, cigarettes, LSD and cocaine among teens all declined.

The survey results were reported in this week's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

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