Teens Vaping More; Drinking, Smoking, and Using Opioids Less

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Source: JN Contributor, “The Dangers of Vaping for Teens with ADHD,” thejewishnews.com, Feb. 27, 2019

14% of 12th graders surveyed had vaped marijuana in the past month, according to a Dec. 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey, published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Last year, only 7.5% of 12th graders reported the same marijuana use.

The survey studied 42,531 students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grade from 396 public and private schools. Researchers found 7% of 8th graders, 19.4% of 10th graders, and 20.8% of 12th graders had vaped marijuana once or more in the past year, about double the amount from the 2018 study. This year the study asked about daily use for the first time and found 3% of 10th graders and 3.5% of 12th graders vaped marijuana daily.

35.7% of 12th graders, 28.8% of 10th graders, and 11.8% of 8th graders had used marijuana in any form in the past year, a decrease from last year for 12th graders but an increase for the other two groups.

Nicotine vaping also increased across all cohorts: 16.5% of 8th graders, 30.7% of 10th graders, and 35.3% of 12th graders had vaped nicotine in the past year, up from 10.9%, 24.7%, and 29.7% in 2018.

Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the NIDA, stated, “One of the reasons they are embracing these [vaping] devices is because they are new technology. It resonates.” Dr. Volkow and her colleague Sion Kim Harris, PhD, Director at the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Boston Children’s Hospital, have theorized that students are also spending less time participating in the in-person social activities that facilitated the use of alcohol and opioids, for example, and are spending more time on social media or other technology.

The report comes at the end of a year fraught with e-cigarette-related lung injuries tied to vaping THC products. An estimated 54 people have died and another 2,506 lung-related illnesses have been reported, according to the CDC. On Dec. 19, 2019, a bill raising the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21 nationwide passed the House and the Senate, and President Trump signed the legislation on Dec. 20, 2019. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21.”

Alcohol use continued to decline with 52% of 12th graders, 37.7% of 10th graders reporting use in the past year, down from 73.2% and 65.3% in 2000. Similarly, cigarette use is in decline among 12th graders, down to 5.7% from 13.6% in 2014.

Use of prescription opioids Vicodin and OxyContin has decreased as well. In 2003, at the height of use among these cohorts, 10.5% of 12th graders, 7.2% of 10th graders, and 2.8% of 8th graders had used Vicodin in the past year. In 2019, use in the past year had dropped to 1.1% for 12th and 10th graders and 0.9% for 8th graders. From 2003 to 2019, OxyContin use decreased from 4.5% to 1.7% for 12th graders, 3.6% to 2.0% for 10th graders, and 1.7% to 1.2% for 8th graders.

When asked if they’d used any illicit drug, 14.8% of 8th graders, 31.0% of 10th graders, and 38.0% of 12th graders replied yes.

Discussion Questions – Things to Think About
1. Is vaping safe for teens? Should the legal age to buy e-cigarettes have been raised to 21? Explain your answers, including any qualifications for nicotine, marijuana, or flavor vaping.

2. What do you think has caused the increase in vaping among teenagers? Are Drs Volkow and Harris right about fewer teens attending parties? Or are there other answers?

3. What sort of policies or programs would be most effective to curb teen drug use in general? Explain your answer.


Jacqueline Howard, “US Raises Legal Age to Buy Cigarettes, Vapes to 21,” cnn.com, Dec. 20, 2019

Sheila Kaplan, “Congress Approved Raising Age to 21 for E-Cigarette and Tobacco Sales,” nytimes.com, Dec. 19, 2019

Matt Richtel, “Teen Marijuana Vaping Soars, Displacing Other Habits,” nytimes.com, Dec. 18, 2019

National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Monitoring the Future 2019 Survey Results: Overall Findings,” drugabuse.gov, Dec. 2019

National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Monitoring the Future: Revised Dec. 2019,” drugabuse.gov, Dec. 2019

US Food and Drug Administration, “Selling Tobacco Products in Retail Stores,” fda.gov, Dec. 20, 2019