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Teen drinking, cigarette smoking down as marijuana vaping rises: study

Teen drinking, cigarette smoking down as marijuana vaping rises: study
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A new study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) finds more teens are vaping marijuana and nicotine but fewer are drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes.

The report — which surveys 8th, 10th and 12th graders — shows that 14 percent of 12th graders said they had vaped marijuana within the last month, up from 7.5 percent last year.

When asked if they had vaped marijuana at least once in the past year, 7 percent of 8th graders said yes, along with 19.4 percent of 10th graders and 20.8 percent of 12th graders.

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“Teens are clearly attracted to vaping products, which are often concentrated amounts of drugs disguised as electronic gadgets,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow.

“Their growing popularity threatens to undo years of progress protecting the health of adolescents in the U.S.”

Illicit vaping products containing THC — the psychoactive substance in marijuana —are at the center of the national public health crisis that began this summer. Most of those products also contained vitamin E acetate, a chemical that can be harmful if inhaled into the lungs. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,409 people have been hospitalized because of vaping-related lung illness and 52 people have died. Sixteen percent of patients are under the age of 18, and the youngest patient is 13, according to the CDC. 

The CDC is still investigating causes of the illnesses. 

The survey released Wednesday also found that more teens are vaping nicotine, while smoking fewer cigarettes. In 2019, 11.7 percent of 12th graders said they vaped nicotine daily, while 5.7 percent said they smoke cigarettes daily. 

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One in four 12th graders said they vaped nicotine in the past month. 

Youth vaping rates are a concern of public health experts and advocates, who are urging the federal government to ban flavored e-cigarette products they argue are appealing to kids. 

The Trump administration said in September it would clear the market of those flavors, but that effort has since stalled. 

The survey also found fewer teens are drinking alcohol. 

Approximately 52 percent of high school seniors surveyed said that they had consumed alcohol in the past year. This number has been dropping steadily since 2000, when it was 73.2 percent.