According to a recent National study, nicotine vaping became the most used substance by American youth. The Monitoring the Future, a long-term national study which was led by a researcher from the University of Michigan found that over the last four years, nicotine vapes use among eighth-grade students had increased rapidly surpassing both cannabis and alcohol to become the most used substance by the age group.
According to Richard Miech, the current lead researcher, for the first time since 1975 when the current Monitoring the Future Study which investigates substance use among Americans began, nicotine vapes are the most used substances among 8th graders in the country. The study’s 2022 findings show that 7% of 8th graders in the country had vaped nicotine vapes in the last 30 days of the survey. This is the highest of any other substance as alcohol comes in second at 6% and cannabis 3rd at 5%.
The first sign of increased use of vaping products among teens in the country was spotted in the 2021 results. In 2021 the number of 10th graders who used alcohol was the same as those who used vaping products. But the 2022 results showed a different picture. In the year, 14% of 10th graders in the country reported having used nicotine vapes within the last 30 days while only 13.6% had used alcohol in the same period. The same result showed that only 12% of 10th graders in the country used cannabis. According to Miech, this is the first time that both the 8th and the 10th graders vaping beat all other substance use in the country.
But the results for 12th graders were different. For this group, alcohol remains the most used substance. This has not changed since the Monitoring the Future study began about 48 years ago.
Interestingly Nicotine vapes are a new entrant to the monitored substances having been added to the study about five years ago in 2017. However, other studies show that nicotine vaping among American youth spiked drastically in 2018. This was reflected in the current study as the use of these products among school-going young Americans spiked in 2018 results and 2019.
Joneigh Khaldum, then Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive declared in 2019 a public health emergency because of the increased vaping among the youth in the state. At the time, Khaldum issued a raft of emergency rules that banned retailers from selling flavoured vaping products. After this initiative by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, the government took over the matter with President Donald Trump announcing several measures to help curb youth vaping in the country.
Thanks to the measures by governments and the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions there was a significant drop in nicotine vaping among the youth in both 2020 and 2021. But this was also the case for other substances such as alcohol and cannabis.
According to Miech the drop in youth vaping in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic only occurred because most youths were attending school remotely. He says that schools are becoming a major risk factor in substance use among teenagers. In school, younger students are close friends with older ones who use these substances. The older students thus encourage the younger ones to also try the substances. This leads to addiction quickly.