Published: Wed, December 19, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

US surgeon general warns of teen risks from e-cigarettes National News

US surgeon general warns of teen risks from e-cigarettes National News

The proportion of high school seniors who reported vaping nicotine in the last month rose to 20.9 percent in 2018, a almost 10-percentage-point increase from 11 percent in 2017, according to results released Monday.

The study covered 44,482 students from 392 public and private schools in the US.

More than 45,000 students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade took part in the survey.

A total of 37.3 percent of 12th graders reported "any vaping" in the past 12 months, compared to 27.8 percent in 2017, the survey said.

"Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices", Dr. Nora D Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the Guardian.

The FDA, in addition to cracking down on e-cigarette companies, launched an educational campaign targeted at teenagers earlier this year.

"We know that nicotine affects brain development", said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California-San Francisco who was not involved in this study.

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Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration, facing mounting pressure to act on the rising popularity of vaping devices, announced sweeping new restrictions on flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

For young people, "nicotine is risky and it can have negative health effects", Adams said in an interview. That survey also found a dramatic rise in vaping among children and prompted federal regulators to press for measures that make it harder for kids to get them.

Another disturbing finding in the new survey is that more teens say they are inhaling "just flavoring" when they vape, increasing fears many adolescents don't realize they are inhaling high levels of nicotine. Fewer high school seniors used other tobacco products, including the once-popular hookah pipes, smokeless tobacco and tiny cigars.

Experts say it's not clear what's behind those trends, especially since the nation is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic ever.

According to Fred Muench, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, these survey results serve as a warning about "creating a generation of nicotine-dependent young people, and what that means for their self-regulation in the future".

The federally funded survey released Monday is conducted by University of MI researchers and has been operating since 1975. "Because it may contain nicotine and mimics the act of smoking, the electronic cigarette, falls in this Directive". Among 10th-graders, it jumped from 8.2 percent in 2017 to 16.1 percent in 2018, and among eighth-graders it rose from 3.5 percent last year to 6.1 percent this year. Other illicit drugs, including cocaine, synthetic cannabinoids, and MDMA as well as alcohol also remained at historic lows.

Compton said more progress is needed, however.

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