Rise in Teen Marijuana Vaping Is Eye-Popping

Percentage of 12th graders who tried it over the past year nearly doubles
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2019 6:33 AM CST
Rise in Teen Marijuana Vaping Is Eye-Popping
In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Massachusetts.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

The good news is that teen alcohol, cigarette, and hard-drug usage is down. But the flip side of the coin is that marijuana and nicotine vaping are sharply up. The National Institute on Drug Abuse's annual Monitoring the Future survey gathers the responses of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, and of the findings released Wednesday, the New York Times reports the jump in marijuana vaping was "most troubling to public health experts": Though nicotine vaping remains more prevalent (35% of 12th graders said they did so in the previous 12 months), marijuana vaping is growing more quickly, reports the AP. Some 14% of 12th graders reported having vaped pot in the past month; in 2018, the figure was 7.5%. That's the second-biggest jump any drug has registered in the survey's history, reports the Washington Post.

Expand the timeline to a year, and 20.8% of 12th graders reported vaping pot, massively up from 7.7% a year prior. Tenth graders were right behind them, with 19.4% reporting usage over the past year; 8th graders hit 7%. "The speed at which kids are taking up this behavior is very worrisome," says Dr. Nora Volkow of NIDA. The survey was completed before the rash of cases of vaping-related lung damage made the news, which she adds could have served as a deterrent to teens. The rosier news is that the use of other substances has continued its downward march. Alcohol use in the past year among 12th graders was 52%; in 2000, it was 73.2%. Use of ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, and meth were flat or declining, though LSD usage is up a bit, with about 3.6% of 12th graders saying they'd used it over the previous year. (Read more vaping stories.)

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