Vaping among teens on the rise, according to study

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As local and federal legislators contemplate cracking down on e-cigarette flavors, a new study confirms what many have already observed: Teens are vaping at alarming rates.

Researchers at the University of MI in Ann Arbor, who conducted the annual survey, asked 44,482 students from 392 private and public schools across the country about their use of tobacco, opioids, marijuana and alcohol.

The findings suggest that the total number of high-school students using tobacco surged by 1.3 million between 2017 and 2018. When both categories of vaping were combined, the researchers found that 25 percent of high-school seniors, 20.3 percent of sophomores and 9.7 percent of eighth-graders used e-cigarettes in 2018.

Adams recommends parents, teachers and health professionals learn about e-cigarettes, talk to children about the risks and set an example by not using tobacco products.

Other e-liquid flavors seemed to be squarely aimed at kids, with packages that resembled frosted cookies and sour sweets.

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About 37 percent of 12th graders said they had vaped within the previous 12 months compared with about 28 percent in 2017.

"We call it the hidden danger and it's to the point now where it's kind of trendy to try and get away with it", said Steve Riddle, executive director of the Gulf Coast Region of the American Lung Association.

Though teenage use of traditional tobacco cigarettes has been declining, public health officials warn that increased use of vaping devices may bring its own ramifications. It was more common in older kids - about 1 in 17 high school seniors said they use marijuana every day.

Experts say it's not clear what's behind those trends, especially since the nation is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic ever. Also, the use of LSD, ecstasy, heroin, opioids, and tobacco is declining lately.

Students' growing attraction to vaping extended to marijuana, which increased by at least 50 percent across the board.

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But Muench argued that, given how opinions on marijuana have shifted, it could actually be a good sign that use has remained steady among teenagers.

If vaping does lead to cigarette use among teens, that may start to show up in the survey as early as next year, he added.

What about vaping? "Vaping mostly is an individual activity", said David Jernigan, a Boston University researcher who tracks alcohol use.

They do have about as much nicotine as a full pack of old school smokes, however.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine which both the Minnesota Department of Health and CDC report harms brain development, meaning learning, memory and attention capabilities can be adversely affected. The proportion of students who said they downed five or more drinks in a row at least once in the previous two weeks fell to 14 percent, from almost 17 percent in 2017.

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