Vaping, Marijuana Use On The Rise Amongst Teens

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In 2017, 4.2 percent of high school seniors, 2.2 percent of sophomores and 0.6 percent of eighth-graders reported a daily smoking habit.

Almost one in four teenagers have used marijuana in the past year, and almost a third have vaped before senior year, according to a new survey by the University of MI.

Initiatives that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use in many states appear to be a factor behind its rising popularity among teens.

E-cigarette smoking in California.

Researchers suggest that the new numbers may indicate that recent national efforts to discourage teens from using opioids might be working, but critics caution that we need to turn our attention to teen marijuana use, branding it a "gateway drug".

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Use of snus - a moist, powdered form of smokeless tobacco - fell for all three grades combined, with 2.6 percent of surveyed students saying they had used it in the previous year. This year, that percentage dropped to 64.7%.

The report, sponsored by the federal government's National Institute on Drug Abuse and administered by the University of MI, found that 22.9 per cent of high school seniors said they had used marijuana within the previous 30 days and 16.6 per cent had used a vaping device. It was the first time the annual survey asked about marijuana vaping and "it's much higher than I expected", said Richard Miech, the University of MI researcher who leads the study. But survey data suggests many teens are able to get the supplies to vape marijuana, often by ordering online. Only 14.1 percent of 12th graders view occasional marijuana use as a "great risk", down 3 percent from a year ago.

Dr Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana says that the industry is 'big tobacco all over again'. About 20 percent said they only vaped it, Miech said. Recent use of any kind of smokeless tobacco was down as well; overall, 3.5 percent of students said they used smokeless tobacco in the last 30 days. But clearly marijuana use isn't declining and that's a problem, Volkow added.

"Typically, as adolescents see less risk of marijuana use, the prevalence (of use) increases", he said. Emerging research shows marijuana can be detrimental to the development of teens' brains.

Vaporizers, including electronic cigarettes, are used with a wide assortment of liquids, including oils that contain the active ingredients of marijuana.

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Nearly a third of those who had vaped said they had inhaled contained nicotine, while 11.1% said marijuana or hash oil. It will take time to see whether vaping makes teens more likely to become cigarette smokers, but early studies suggest this may be the case, she said.

'We are especially concerned because the survey shows that some of the teens using these devices are first-time nicotine users, ' said Dr Nora D. Volkow, director of NIDA. "My fear is that we may be seeing the start of a long-term increase in marijuana use among youth", Miech said.

The study asked eighth, 10th and 12th graders about marijuana, smoking and vaping and found that 24 percent teens have used marijuana in the past year.

In the mid-1990s, when teen smoking was at a peak, 24.6 percent of high school seniors said they smoked cigarettes daily.

Heroin, cocaine, steroids and LCD use remains low among students, though there has been a "significant" uptick in LSD among high school seniors, about three percent of whom reported trying it.

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