Sunday, September 24, 2023

Vaping use among high & middle schoolers ticks up


Three years ago this month, Voxitatis relayed a report from the student newspaper at Clarksburg High School in Maryland, detailing a “vaping problem” in which students were using nicotine and THC e-cigarettes with increasing frequency.

In 2019, when we ran the report, about a fourth of high school teens had reported vaping within the previous month. Efforts brought that number down, as did the pandemic. But the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that usage of vaping products among middle and high school students has crept back up a little.

As of the survey dates of January 18 through May 31, 14.1 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school students used these nicotine-delivering vaping products at least once over the past 30 days, USA Today reports. The numbers reflect an average increase of about 30 percent from 2021.

More than a thousand school districts across the US have joined a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, one of the manufacturers of e-cigarettes. The nuisance lawsuit claims the manufacturer was partly responsible for the teen vaping epidemic.

But it’s uncertain whether the lawsuit against one manufacturer, while significant, will reduce the usage of e-cigarettes among teens because synthetic vaping products are on the rise in use among teens: About 20 percent of teen smokers in the NYTS indicated they used a brand of disposable e-cigarettes other than the 13 brands listed. Knock-off vaping products are more difficult to track and have supplanted JUUL’s popularity among teens.

Voxitatis is embarking on a project to analyze and report data from NYTS over the next few months. Annual data go back to 2011, and some irregular data is available back to 1999. We will update these pages when we complete our analysis and post a Web-based tool that will allow our readers to slice and dice the data in a way they feel may mitigate the harmful effects of teen vaping.

Specific areas covered by the NYTS include the prevalence of tobacco product use; knowledge of and attitudes toward tobacco product use; exposure to pro- and anti-tobacco media and advertising; minors’ access to tobacco products; nicotine dependence; attempts to quit; exposure to second-hand smoke; harm perceptions; and exposure to tobacco product warnings.

At the beginning of each tobacco product section, a description of the product (with example brands) and generic images of specific tobacco products were provided to assist with product recognition and increase the accuracy of student data. Recent data also includes socio-demographic questions about family affluence, depression and anxiety, and sexual orientation and gender identity.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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