While a recent national study conducted by the University Of Michigan, found that vaping was one of the most common types of substance use for teenagers in 2022. Collecting data from the Monitoring the Future study, the study reported that among 8th grade students, 7% vaped nicotine in the past 30 days in 2022, compared to 6% who used alcohol and 5% who used cannabis. While among 10th graders, 14% vaped nicotine in the past 30 days, compared to 13.6% and 12% for alcohol and cannabis use, respectively.
A drop in substance abuse among teens
In line with these figures, another study by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, found a drop in general substance abuse among US adolescents, with the exception of cannabis and vapes.
Titled, “Adolescents’ Use of Free Time and Associations with Substance Use from 1991 to 2019,” the study was published online in the journal Substance Use and Misuse. Examining data from 536,291 adolescents between 1991–2019, the research team attributed this drop in substance use to new social trends, such as low social engagement and participation in structured activities, including partying.
On the other hand, a recent study by the Observatoire Français des drogues et des tendances addictives (OFDT), has found that in France the consumption of cannabis has dropped aswell, alongside tobacco and alcohol use.
The study consisted of 23,000 teenagers and it found that this drop in the consumption of the products was due to “a profound change in the perception of these uses, linked to the ‘denormalisation’ of tobacco and the change in the status of alcohol, which is no longer systematically perceived as an essential part of partying in the eyes of the new generations of adolescents.”
Teens whose parents smoke are more likely to vape or smoke
Meanwhile, a 2022 study presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Barcelona, Spain, indicated that teenagers whose parents smoke are 55% more likely to try e-cigarettes.
Carried out by a team at the TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI), in Dublin, the researchers examined data on 6,216 17-18-year-olds, including information on whether they smoked and/or vaped and whether their parents smoked while they were growing up.
The compiled responses indicated that teen vaping rates have increased dramatically especially among girls. More importantly the study found that teens whose parents smoked were around 55% more likely to have tried vapes and about 51% more likely to have tried traditional cigarettes.
Such patterns have been observed before. A recent campaign released by the UK government titled “Better Health Smoke Free” aims to educate on how adult smokers can influence younger people to take up the habit.
Featuring a number of experts on the topic, the campaign explains that research has shown that teens whose primary caregiver smoked were also more than twice as likely to have tried cigarettes (26% vs 11% ) and four times as likely to become regular smokers than their peers whose parents do not smoke (4.9% vs 1.2%). While in a film released last year, the NHS and behavioural health experts discussed the link between smoking parents and the subsequent likelihood of their children to smoke.
Vaping among U.S. teens has dropped by a third
In other news, the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) had indicated that e-cigarette use amongst teens in the U.S. had dropped by a third. Carried out between January 16th and March 16th, the school-based survey indicated that 19.6% of high school students (3.02 million) reported e-cigarette use, down from 27.5% (4.11 million) in 2019. Amongst middle school students the figure dropped aswell, from 10.5% (1.24 million) in 2019, to 4.7% (550 000).
Meanwhile, an interesting study conducted by the University of Georgia (UGA) looked into the relationship between vaping and physical activity levels. Titled, “Electronic Vapor Product Use and Levels of Physical Activity Among High School Students in Georgia,” the study found that over 10% of Georgia high school students reported that they had vaped at least once in the past month. However to the surprise of many, physically active teens were found to be more likely to use the products than their less active peers.
Physically active teens may be more likely to vape
More specifically, teens who participated in at least 60 minutes of physical activity were 23% more likely to vape, while those who were active two to three days a week were 11% more likely to.
“Our youth who tend to be on the healthy spectrum for physical health have heightened risk of using electronic vapor products. This may be because vape is perceived to be a healthier option to traditional smoking,” explained lead study author Janani an associate professor in UGA’s College of Public Health.
He inaccurately added that vapes are no safer than regular cigarettes. “If adolescents are thinking vapes are a better option to traditional cigarettes that is a big problem.” Statements like these are dangerous to say the least. Science has proven the relative safety of the products, therefore for teens who would be smoking in the absence of vapes, vaping could be saving them from a multitude of smoke-related diseases.