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Survey logs big one-year jump in nicotine vaping among 8th-graders

The rate of nicotine vaping among 8th-graders in the U.S. nearly doubled in the past year and the rate among 12th-graders jumped by 22%, according to a new survey released Wednesday

The popularity of e-cigarettes has now grown to the point where one in four 12th-graders reported vaping a nicotine product during the previous 30 days. It’s nearly 1 in 10 for 8th-graders, the study team reports.

The actual rates are probably significantly higher because many e-cigarette users vape non-nicotine products designed to taste like mint, bubblegum, cotton candy and other sweets. Those were not included in the current analysis.

Data on the use of those products is being analyzed, but if past trends hold, the overall rate of vaping would be at least 20% higher if all products are included, lead study author Richard Miech of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

“The (nicotine) increase is extensive and we see it in every single grade,” he said. “Last year the increase in nicotine vaping was the largest increase of any substance we’ve ever tracked in 44 years. I thought, ‘This can’t continue.’ But sure enough, it did. And this increase ranks among the largest we’ve ever seen.”

Results of the new Monitoring the Future survey, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The poll results are being released amid an outbreak of sometimes-fatal lung problems seen among vapers who inhaled both nicotine and non-nicotine products.

At least 7 previously-healthy people have died from using e-cigarettes, with at least 380 cases of severe lung damage reported throughout the U.S and the Virgin Islands. Hundreds more cases are being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials have urged consumers to stop using the products. New York and Michigan have banned flavored e-cigarettes. Other states are considering similar action.

Over all, the survey of 42,531 students found daily vaping rates of 11.7% among 12th graders, 6.9% among 10th graders and 1.9% among 8th graders.

When it came to vaping a nicotine-based product within the previous 30 days, 8th-graders showed the largest increase – a 46% jump from 6.1% in 2018 to 9% in 2019.

Among the 12th-graders, 30-day rates went from 20.9% in 2018 to 25.4% earlier this year, a 22% increase.

Two out of every five 12th-graders said they had tried vaping at some point in their young lives, as had one in five 8th-graders.

“Current efforts by the vaping industry, government agencies, and schools have thus far proved insufficient to stop the rapid spread of nicotine vaping among adolescents,” the survey team writes.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, online September 18, 2019.

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