Teenagers are increasingly using e-cigarettes that were developed -- and purportedly have been marketed -- to help adults break their tobacco-based nicotine habits. One result: a void in the rapidly expanding market for products or services that will help them break their addictions.
The percentage of teens who vape nicotine products jumped 10% among 10th graders and 2.6% among eight graders even as the use of alcohol, cocaine, opioids, LSD, ecstasy, and conventional cigarettes declined, according to “Monitoring the Future Survey,” the annual study of nearly 45,000 students funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by the University of Michigan. About 21% of high school seniors had vaped within the previous 30 days, compared to about 11% a year ago.
“It was the largest single-year increase in the survey’s 44-year history, far surpassing a mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking,” reports the AP’s Mike Stobbe.
“Teens report they are vaping ‘flavoring only’ in higher numbers as well, although it is likely that many young users do not know what is in the liquid they are vaping,” the report states.
Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are running stories today featuring teens -- and their parents -- who have struggled to find help for their nicotine dependence.
“Pam Debono of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is in the throes of helping her three children, ages 17 through 20, stop vaping for good,” writes the NYT’s Jan Hoffman.
“At first we thought, ‘It’s just a phase that takes wanting to quit, some self-discipline, and then it’s done,’” Debono tells Hoffman.
“Turning to standard carrot-stick methods, she and her husband began sanctions like grounding and then cutting off their children’s allowances, so that the kids couldn’t afford the flavored nicotine cartridges. But the couple had to grimly acknowledge nicotine’s physiological grip,” Hoffman writes.
“We sure wouldn’t treat alcohol or prescription drug addictions that way,” Debono says.
“The Food and Drug Administration thinks that teen addiction to vaping is so bad that it may have to encourage the development of products to help them kick this new habit of not smoking, but of vaping,” writes Maggie Fox for NBC News. “It’s ironic, since e-cigarette companies have long positioned their products as aids to help people quit the more dangerous, so-called combustible tobacco products.”
The FDA on Monday rescheduled a public hearing from this month to Jan. 18 to discuss its efforts to eliminate youth electronic cigarettes, “with a focus on the potential role of drug therapies to support youth e-cigarette cessation."
“Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices; however, it is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health; the development of the teen brain; and the potential for addiction,” National Institute on Drug Abuse director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., says in the release outlining the “Monitoring the Future” results.
“Research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes, so while we have celebrated our success in lowering their rates of tobacco use in recent years, we must continue aggressive educational efforts on all products containing nicotine.”
“Chronic nicotine use can make teens more impulsive, less focused and attentive, and at risk of cognitive problems, says Sarper Taskiran, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute in New York City, who says many of his patients use e-cigarettes,” Betsy McKay writes for the Wall Street Journal. “Yet there are few options to treat teens for nicotine use disorder from e-cigarettes, parents and experts say.”
“We’re still wrapping our heads around vaping and what we do for treatment,” Kevin Gray, a professor and the director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, tells McKay.
“The debate over e-cigarettes and other nicotine vaping products has reached a fever pitch this year. While proponents point to such devices’ potential to nudge adult cigarette smokers towards a relatively benign substitute, critics … have taken a strong stance against the products, citing problematic marketing that specifically targets children,” writes Sy Mukherjee for Fortune.
The “Monitoring the Future” findings “follows Juul’s decision last month to remove all fruity flavors from retail stores in an attempt to curb the ongoing issue of nicotine addiction among nonsmoking teens. However, all the flavors the Food and Drug Administration believe are responsible for teen nicotine consumption will remain available online, and something tells me we’re all underestimating social media savvy kids’ ability to procure illicit substances on the internet. If anything, this’ll only stop the olds from buying their favorite flavors, right?” suggests Maria Sherman for Jezebel.