Vaping, tobacco use still high in area youth
The Texas School Survey asked 6-12 graders, “About how many of your close friends use tobacco?” According to the TSS, many grade levels indicate that “none” of their friends use tobacco. While the number of traditional smokers keeps trending downward, vaping pens are more popular among teenagers than ever before. U.S. News reported that nearly 1 in 5 high school seniors used electronic cigarettes in the past month in 2015.[i]
A study at Durham University suggests that a majority of young people don’t consider e-cigarettes smoking.[ii] Teenagers were attracted by the range of flavors and, in particular teenage boys, the ability to perform tricks with the vapors. This same study found that young people identified that traditional cigarettes were harmful, but electronic cigarettes were about personal choice and enhanced peer group status and socializing with friends. So while public health officials are debating about whether e-cigs are a “gateway” to a lifetime of smoking, many teenagers are not concerned about this and mainly care about social status.[iii]
The Monitoring the Future Survey found that 64.7% of students who use vape pens are vaping nicotine and drug-free liquids which are available to adult buyers in various flavors.[iv] For teens, purchasing vape pens and liquid is only a click away, but there are plenty of alternatives locally where they can just go pick it up themselves. As of May 2016, there were 6 vape shops in Midland, Odessa, and San Angelo each. There were 4 vape shops in Big Spring as of May 2016. In each mall in the region, one can see a stand or kiosk for e-cigarettes. Teens can access all flavors and concentrations online. The University of California San Francisco found that individuals who smoke e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke cigarettes and less likely to quit smoking.[v] Although much research needs to be done on the effects of e-cigarettes and how harmful they can be to teenagers, data shows that “E-cigarettes are likely to be gateway devices for nicotine addiction among youth, opening a whole new market for tobacco.”[vi] Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth or young adulthood. Among adults who smoke daily, 88% reported that they first smoked by the age of 18 and 99% reported that they first smoked by the age of 26.[vii] Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable diseases, disability, and death in the United States.[viii]
By Kevin Thompson Regional Evaluator
Region 9 Prevention Resource Center
[i] U.S. News & World Report, Shock Survey Result: Most Teen E-Cigarette Users Don’t Vape Nicotine, December 16, 2015, www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015-12-16/most-teen-e-cigarette-users-don’t-vape-nicotine, April 2016.
[ii] ITV Report, Young People Do Not See E-Cigarettes as ‘Smoking,” May 16, 2016, itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2016-05-16/young-people-do-not-see-e-cigarettes-as-smoking, April 2016.
[iii] ITV Report, Young People Do Not See E-Cigarettes as ‘Smoking,” May 16, 2016, itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2016-05-16/young-people-do-not-see-e-cigarettes-as-smoking, April 2016.
[iv] National Institute on Drug Abuse, Trends and statistics, 2015, http://www.drugabuse.gov, April 2016.
[v] Fernandez, E., University of California San Francisco, E-Cigarettes: Gateway to Nocotine Addication for U.S. Teens, Says UCSF Study, March 6, 2014, www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/03/112316/e-cigarettes-gateway-nicotine-addiction-us-teens-says-ucsf-study, May 16, 2016.
[vi] Fernandez, E., University of California San Francisco, E-Cigarettes: Gateway to Nocotine Addication for U.S. Teens, Says UCSF Study, March 6, 2014, www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/03/112316/e-cigarettes-gateway-nicotine-addiction-us-teens-says-ucsf-study, May 16, 2016.
[vii] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Tobacco, http://www.samsha.gov/atod/tobacco, December 21,2015.
[viii]National Institute on Drug Abuse, Tobacco/Nicotine, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/ drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products, December 21, 2015.
Published August 10, 2016.