Large Rise in Marijuana Vaping Amongst U.S. Teenagers

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Could 20, 2022 (HealthDay Information) — A rising variety of U.S. youngsters are vaping marijuana — a behavior that in some methods could also be extra dangerous than old school pot smoking, a brand new examine finds.

Researchers discovered that between 2017 and 2019, the share of teenagers who reported any marijuana use up to now month ticked upward barely — from 13.9% to fifteen.4%.

What actually modified, the examine discovered, was how youngsters had been utilizing the drug. There was a pointy improve in vaping, whereas conventional marijuana smoking declined.

The proportion of children who mentioned they vaped marijuana “ceaselessly” — not less than as soon as every week — greater than doubled, from 2.1% to five.4%. Occasional use (one to 6 instances a month) rose to the same diploma.

On the identical time, the proportion of children who smoke marijuana declined. In essence, vaping gave the impression to be changing smoking, in keeping with lead researcher Katherine Keyes, a professor at Columbia College Mailman College of Public Well being in New York Metropolis.

She mentioned she might solely speculate in regards to the causes. However the rising reputation of vaping nicotine, together with legalization and altering social norms round marijuana, are probably elements, Keyes mentioned.

These factors had been echoed by Linda Richter, vice chairman of prevention analysis and evaluation for the nonprofit Partnership to Finish Habit.

She mentioned previous analysis presents some “compelling explanations” for the tendencies seen on this examine.

“First, the wave of nicotine vaping that unfold all through center and excessive faculties over the previous a number of years elevated the probability that youngsters who vape nicotine will transition to vaping marijuana,” mentioned Richter, who was not concerned within the examine.

Vaping, she added, has change into “normalized,” whereas on the identical time “pro-marijuana messages” have grown.

“Vaped merchandise are additionally sometimes seen as safer and more healthy than smoked merchandise, as a result of when e-cigarettes had been initially launched to the market, they had been marketed as safer options to cigarette smoking,” Richter mentioned.

However vaping is way from benign. And relating to marijuana, Keyes mentioned, vaping can really ship a better dose of THC than smoking does. THC is the lively ingredient behind marijuana’s “excessive.”

That greater THC dose, Richter mentioned, can “hook younger individuals to the substance and maintain them coming again for extra.”

And whereas vaping doesn’t contain smoke, the liquids utilized in vaporizers do comprise probably poisonous chemical compounds, Richter identified. Vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing vaping merchandise, has been linked to extreme — and typically deadly — lung accidents.

That lack of smoke can also be an issue of types: Youngsters can conceal marijuana vaping extra simply than smoking, Richter mentioned, as a result of there is no telltale pot odor.

The brand new findings — revealed Could 19 within the journal Habit — are based mostly on greater than 51,000 U.S. teenagers who took half in annual well being survey between 2017 and 2019.

Throughout that point, marijuana vaping rose amongst girls and boys, with a big spike in these utilizing not less than as soon as every week: from 2.9% to six.2% amongst boys, and from 1.3% to 4.7% amongst women.

By 2019, marijuana vaping was extra widespread than conventional pot smoking amongst all racial and ethnic teams, aside from Black teenagers.

Keyes additionally pointed to a discovering from a earlier examine of the identical group of teenagers: Highschool seniors reported an particularly sharp rise in marijuana vaping — with the prevalence practically tripling, from 5% to 14%.

The vaping craze presents mother and father with some troublesome points, in keeping with Keyes and Richter. Not solely is marijuana use more durable to note, however youngsters are additionally seeing marijuana vaping merchandise marketed in every single place, together with on social media, they identified.

“It is not a matter of whether or not your youngster can be uncovered to this, however when,” Keyes mentioned. “The perfect factor mother and father can do is to speak to their youngsters about marijuana use, and begin early — in center college.”

Richter agreed, encouraging mother and father to take a “well being quite than a punitive method” to these conversations.

Extra data

Partnership to Finish Habit has recommendation for folks on speaking about marijuana.

SOURCES: Katherine Keyes, PhD, professor, epidemiology, Columbia College Mailman College of Public Well being, New York Metropolis; Linda Richter, PhD, vice chairman, prevention analysis and evaluation, Partnership to Finish Habit, New York Metropolis; Habit, Could 19, 2022, on-line

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