1 in 4 U.S. high school seniors has vaped recently — up 4.5 percentage points from 2018

E-cig use continues to rise among high school and middle school students in 2019


Around one in 8 U.S. high school seniors reported daily use of e-cigarettes, a sign of nicotine addiction, according to the latest Monitoring the Future survey.

AleksandrYu/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The crowd of teens and tweens vaping in their school bathrooms and just about every place else is getting bigger.

One out of every 4 high school seniors in the United States reported recent vaping, according to an annual behavioral survey called Monitoring the Future. Among sophomores, that ratio was 1 in 5, and for 8th-graders it was 1 in 11.

Those results mark a 4.5 percentage point rise in recent vaping within the past 30 days by 12th-graders over the previous year, a 4.1 percentage point rise among 10th-graders and a 2.8 percentage point increase for 8th-graders from 2018, researchers report online September 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Unfortunately, I am not at all surprised by these increases in use by adolescents,” says Susanne Tanski, a primary care pediatrician at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, N.H. “Use among teens and young adults is incredibly common, frequent and leading to addiction.”

To quantify how many teens may be addicted, the survey asked for the first time about daily nicotine vaping, defined as having used e-cigarettes on at least 20 of the previous 30 days. Nearly 12 percent of 12th-graders, 7 percent of 10th-graders and 2 percent of 8th-graders reported a daily vaping habit, which suggests nicotine addiction, the study authors say. Nicotine can harm adolescent brain development, which can impact learning, attention and impulse control (SN: 12/19/18).

“We are seeing young people who are struggling with nicotine addiction that is more intense than we saw with regular cigarettes,” Tanski says.

The growth in teen vaping also comes as health officials cope with an outbreak of severe vaping-related illnesses and deaths across the United States (SN: 9/6/19). Officials don’t yet know what substance or product is fueling the lung injuries.

The nationally representative Monitoring the Future survey, conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan with government funding, asked vaping-related questions of more than 4,500 students across the United States in each of the three grades.

Aimee Cunningham is the biomedical writer. She has a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University.

More Stories from Science News on Health & Medicine