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NIH-Funded Survey Reports Decline in Vaping and Use of Hookahs, Cigarettes by Teens

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
A survey funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)ís National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that vaping, cigarette smoking, and use of hookahs among adolescents has declined over the past year.
Monitoring the Future (MTF), a survey funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that vaping among adolescents has declined over the past year. The survey also reported a decline in the use of hookahs and cigarette smoking in this population.

MTF surveys have been monitoring the use of drug, alcohol, and cigarette use among adolescent students since 1975, and this year, the survey included 45,473 students from 372 public and private schools who answered questions on their drug use during their lifetime, past year, and past month.  

The following are some of the salient findings from the survey for a 1-year period between 2015 and 2016:

  • 30 days prior to the survey
    • 3% decrease (16% to 13%) in 12th grade students
    • 3% decrease (14% to 11%) in 10th grade students
    • 2% decrease (8% to 6%) in 8th grade students
  • Perceived harm from e-cigarette use among adolescents
    • 2% increase among 12th grade (16% to 18%), 10th grade (17% to 19%), and 8th grade (16% to 18%) students
Hookah use

During the 1 year prior to the survey, the use of hookahs among 12th grade students saw a 7% decrease (20% to 13%).

Cigarette use

Overall, the lowest use of cigarettes was noted among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders during the 1-year survey period.
  • 30 days prior to the survey
    • 0.9% decrease (11.4% to 10.5%) in 12th grade students
    • 1.5% decrease (6.3% to 4.9%) in 10th grade students
    • 1% decrease (3.6% to 2.6%) in 8th grade students
Richard Miech, PhD, MPH, research professor at the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, which conducted the survey, said in a press release that he was unsure whether the vaping results are indicative of a pause or a peak, and results from the next few years would help draw more definitive conclusions. Miech is a senior investigator in the MTF project.

“The decline in [the use of hookah and vaping] is important so that any reduction in cigarette smoking among US teens is a real reduction in nicotine consumption, and not just a change from one form of nicotine use to another,” Miech added.

This decline in the use of nicotine-based products is welcome news for organizations like the CDC that keeps track of the extent of exposure of children to advertising by manufacturers of these products. Earlier this year, CDC reported that 70% of teenagers are exposed to e-cigarette ads—either in retail stores, on the internet, on TV, or at the movies.

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