Seventy percent of teenagers reported vaping for the first time in the last year, but the total number of kids who said they got vapeable nicotine in 2018 fell, a new study released on Thursday shows.
The NCHS study, released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that, despite a large, sustained decline in vaping that the agency identified last year, rates haven’t come down nearly as fast for second-time vapers.
There were about 2.1 million new vapers between 2016 and 2017, when the total number of children using e-cigarettes for the first time had risen to 3.3 million – or 16 percent of all high school students in the country. Between 2017 and 2018, first-time vapers dropped to 1.7 million, or 12 percent, while total vapers in the country fell from 5.6 million to 4.9 million, according to the data.
“Current trends indicate that we may have lost ground in this area,” said Tom Frieden, the CDC director, in a statement released with the data. “And we need to understand why this is happening and act to get kids the help they need to stop.”
The level of interest in vapes has increased among teens over the past few years, but the risks and levels of use have remained relatively stable. The concerns over e-cigarettes have included health and safety risks, including potential harm to learning ability and future drug use and aggression.
Still, the NCHS study showed that younger age groups are significantly more likely to vape, with rates among younger high school students over 50 percent and among middle school students at more than 30 percent.
The use of vaping products among middle schoolers declined over the course of the last year, from 27 percent in 2017 to 19 percent in 2018, the study showed.
Overall, girls are twice as likely as boys to report using e-cigarettes, and more women than men use chewing tobacco.
Overall, more males than females are reported vaping, while younger people are more likely to report using electronic cigarettes, conventional cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
The number of vape users who reported nicotine dependence or dependence because of food additives or flavorings was higher among the age groups younger than 18.
Overall, about 10 percent of current vapers and 21 percent of current nonvaper vapers were dependent. About two in five current vapers and more than a third of current nonvaper vapers said they used nicotine replacement therapy in the last year.
About a quarter of current vapers were using tobacco for the first time. The most popular vaper was believed to be a 14-year-old boy, followed by a 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy. The least common vaper was a 12-year-old girl.
The data reported these results based on responses from more than 13,000 students at 245 schools around the country who completed the 2017-2018 Teen Health Check survey.
Further research was required to determine whether the decline in use over the past year was driven by more health and safety messaging and strict enforcement in schools.
Other studies conducted by the CDC and others have found similar trends in the prevalence of e-cigarette use in 2018 and previous years. But before the end of 2018, e-cigarette use among high schoolers fell the most since first-time vapers were tracked.