By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
For the first time, researchers are finding that significantly fewer teens are using e-cigarettes, hookahs and other popular “vaping” products.
The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, which tracks trends in substance use among 40,000 to 50,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades, found a decline in 2016 after e-cigarette use reached an all-time high in 2015.
The survey found that the percentage of adolescents who vaped in the past 30 days this year fell:
- 3 percentage points among 12th graders, from 16 percent to 13 percent;
- 3 percentage points among 10th graders, from 14 percent to 11 percent; and
- 2 percentage points among 8th graders, from 8 percent to 6 percent.
E-cigarettes deliver a nicotine-containing aerosol popularly called vapor by heating a solution usually made of glycerin, nicotine and flavoring agents. The American Heart Association said in a policy statement that e-cigarettes are targeted toward young people, can keep people hooked on nicotine and they threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use.
The health risks of e-cigarettes to young people is a concern for the health community, as well as the possibility that they will later become tobacco cigarette smokers. A report from the surgeon general on Dec. 8 called youth e-cigarette smoking “a major public health concern.”
Surgeon General’s report warns e-cigarettes a ‘public health threat’ – News on Heart.org
E-cigarettes can serve as a gateway to other tobacco use, the report noted, and advertisements featuring celebrity endorsements and cartoons have the potential to once again normalize tobacco use in popular culture.
E-cigarette use had been climbing and it’s not clear why it fell off in 2016.
Researchers said it’s too early to tell whether vaping among adolescents had “peaked,” but Richard Miech, a senior investigator on the project said the “honeymoon period” for e-cigarettes could be waning, as knowledge of the product’s dangers become more widely known.
For instance, the survey found that teens increasingly view e-cigarette use as dangerous, with 18 percent of 12th graders, 19 percent of 10th graders and 21 percent of 8th graders, respectively, calling regular use harmful.
AHA Chief Executive Nancy Brown said the drop in e-cigarette use shows that work by federal agencies and public health organizations is paying off. She said the decline is a “reason for optimism.”
Meanwhile, cigarette use among teens continues to fall, reaching its lowest levels since the survey began monitoring use more than four decades ago.
Cigarette smoking rates among both 10th and 8th graders fell by a percentage point or more in just one year.
According to the report, cigarette smoking among teens has fallen 75 percent since it peaked in 1997.
Cigarettes are the leading preventable cause of death, killing nearly half a million Americans a year and leaving 16 million others with smoking-related illnesses.
Miech said there has been a concern that e-cigarettes would replace tobacco if people do not see any immediate health consequences from vaping.
The Monitoring the Future study is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.