Teen vaping rates doubled in 2019, with 25 percent of high school seniors using e-cigarettes

Teen vaping rates doubled in 2019, with 25 percent of high school seniors using e-cigarettes
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The percentage of teenagers who are vaping has doubled in the past two years, according to new data released Wednesday, with 25 percent of high school seniors using an e-cigarette in the past month.

The data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also shows that 20 percent of 10th grade students vaped in the past month, up from 16 percent in 2018. 

And 9 percent of 8th grade students have vaped in the past month, up from 6 percent in 2018. 

NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow said the numbers show teen vaping is a "public health crisis."

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"These products introduce the highly addictive chemical nicotine to these young people and their developing brains, and I fear we are only beginning to learn the possible health risks and outcomes for youth," she said in a statement. 

Youth vaping rates have been climbing since at least 2017, when 11 percent of high school seniors told researchers they had vaped in the past month. 

Public health experts had expected teen vaping rates to increase in 2019 after seeing last year's shockingly high numbers. 

Twenty-one percent of 12th graders said the same in 2018. 

But this year's numbers show policymakers can't wait any longer to act, Volkow said. 

“There has to be a policy that would make it much harder for teenagers to be introduced to vaping," she told The New York Times. 

The Trump administration announced last week it would soon ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, arguing they are too appealing to kids. 

Governors in New York and Michigan issued similar bans this week. 

Rising vaping rates among teenagers come as federal health officials investigate a spate of vaping-related lung illnesses that are primarily affecting young people. 

Most patients have said they vaped THC, but others have vaped nicotine.

Officials have not yet identified a specific brand or product that has been tied to the illnesses but have warned against buying products from the black market.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 380 possible or confirmed cases of the illness, and seven people have died.