Increased Vaping among Teens Raises Serious Health Concerns

More eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students are vaping marijuana and nicotine, according to the recent Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One of the most disturbing statistics is during the month prior to the survey, high school seniors vaping marijuana increased from 7.5 percent one year ago to 14 percent. In addition, rates nearly doubled in the past two annual surveys among teenagers vaping marijuana at least once during the previous year. The latest responses to this survey question are 7% of eighth graders, 19.4% of 10th graders and 20.8% of 12th graders. This is an alarming trend as vaping marijuana, as well as nicotine, are harmful to individuals' lungs and for youth, there is an additional risk of adverse effects of marijuana in the brain that could lead to cognitive deficiencies (for example, difficulty concentrating, which could negatively affect school performance) and development of depression and other mental health disorders.

"It is extremely troubling that many people, especially youth, mistakenly believe that vaping marijuana and nicotine is not harmful," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc. "The technology aspect of vaping and the flavored nicotine may be factors that led to e-cigarettes being used by youth more than traditional cigarettes and alcohol," Dr. Wentz added, referring to the MTF survey findings that teenagers' use of alcohol and regular cigarettes have significantly declined. The researchers also discovered decreased use of hard drugs among teenagers.

"Education in schools and public awareness campaigns through social media are needed to inform students of the dangers associated with vaping," Dr. Wentz stressed.

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