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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Vaping, Marijuana Use Rose in College-Age Adults

Candid shot of several college-age people

Vaping marijuana and vaping nicotine rose sharply in the past 3 years among college-age (19-22 years old) adults, according to 2019 survey results from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study.

Vaping marijuana and vaping nicotine rose sharply in the past 3 years among college-age (19-22 years old) adults, according to 2019 survey results from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study. The percentage of college students who said they vaped marijuana in the past 30 days rose from 5.2 percent in 2017 to 14 percent in 2019. The corresponding percentages for their non-college-attending peers increased from 7.8 percent in 2017 to 17 percent in 2019.

MTF, an ongoing study of the trends in substance use by adolescents and adults in the United States, is funded by NIDA. The survey is conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

The percentage of adults ages 19 to 22 who vaped nicotine also rose dramatically between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, 6.1 percent of college students and 7.9 percent of those not in college said they vaped nicotine in the past month, rising to 22 percent and 18 percent, respectively, in 2019. These increases in vaping marijuana and nicotine are among the largest increases in use for any substance reported by the study in its 45-year history.

“We are seeing an increasingly concerning trend,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow. “Many young people may view vaping and cannabis use as ‘safer’, but the reality is that nicotine is highly addictive, and cannabis can also be addictive, particularly in younger adults for whom the brain is still developing.”

The MTF study has been annually tracking substance use among college students and non-college adults since 1980. 

Other highlights from the 2019 survey: Cigarette smoking continued a downward trend; binge drinking showed no significant changes; and prescription opioid misuse continued to decline, as did amphetamine use.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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