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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Study Finds Surge of Teen Vaping Levels Off, But Remains High

Four smiling teenagers walk arm in arm.

Study finds levels of nicotine and marijuana vaping did not increase from 2019 to early 2020, although they remain high.

Photo: Jacob Lund/iStock

Findings released in December from the most recent Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of substance use behaviors and related attitudes among U.S. teens indicate that levels of nicotine and marijuana vaping did not increase from 2019 to early 2020, although they remain high. The annual MTF survey is conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and funded by NIDA.

In the 4 years since the survey began including questions on nicotine and marijuana vaping, use of these substances among teens has increased to markedly high levels. From 2017 to 2019, the percentage of teenagers who said they vaped nicotine in the past 12 months roughly doubled for 8th, 10th and 12th graders. In 2020, the rates held steady. 

“The rapid rise of teen nicotine vaping in recent years has been unprecedented and deeply concerning since we know that nicotine is highly addictive and can be delivered at high doses by vaping devices, which may also contain other toxic chemicals that may be harmful when inhaled,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow. “It’s encouraging to see a leveling off of this trend, though the rates still remain very high.”

Past-year vaping of marijuana also remained steady in 2020, following a 2-fold increase over the past 2 years. Additionally, daily marijuana vaping significantly decreased among 10th graders.

In early 2020, MTF survey investigators collected 11,821 surveys in 112 schools before data collection stopped prematurely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While this represents a fraction of a typical year’s data collection, the results were gathered from a broad geographic and representative sample, so the data were statistically weighted to provide national numbers.

Study investigators are working with schools to deploy the survey in early 2021 to gather data that will reflect substance use during the pandemic and related periods of social distancing.

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